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Coronavirus live global: latest Covid-19 news - Wednesday 22 April

US President Donald Trump's latest press briefing...

Ghana becomes first African country to lift lockdown...

US vaccine agency director lifts lid on dismissal 

Dr. Rick Bright, the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority tasked with developing a coronavirus vaccine, has claimed he was dimissed because he refused to back coronavirus treatments pushed by President Donald Trump.

"I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit," Bright said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science -- not politics or cronyism -- has to lead the way."

France coronavirus death toll close to Spain's, still world's fourth highest

The number of people who have died from coronavirus infection in France increased by 544 to 21,340 on Wednesday, the fourth-highest casualty tally in the world, but trailing just a few hundred behind Spain, which has a death toll of 21,717. The toll increased at a rate of 2.6% on Wednesday, the same as Tuesday, and remained well below the four to five percent rates seen a week ago. (From Reuters)

Two cats test postive in New York


Spanish parliament approves State of Emergency extension

As expected, members of the Spanish parliament have approved the extension of the State of Emergency until May 9. The Spanish government originally declared the State of Emergency on March 13, with the country going into lockdown the next day. Spain has endured some of the toughest lockdown measures in Europe, an easing of which will not begin until at least mid-May, the president, Pedro Sanchez, has warned. 

"This state of alarm will be different from the previous ones," said Sanchez. "We are going in the right direction towards the de-escalation process. We hope that by mid-May we can start that process, which will be slow and gradual."

Soccer-Beckham joins All In Challenge

David Beckham, the former England soccer captain and now co-owner of Major League Soccer's Inter-Miami, is giving fans a chance to play a five-a-side charity match and raise funds to help feed those in need during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Beckham's offer is part of the 'All In Challenge' in which athletes and celebrities come up with special fan experiences to raise money for selected charities.

Along with getting a chance to form a team to play with the former Manchester United midfielder, the winner will have lunch with Beckham and watch an Inter-Miami match from the owner's suite. In a video, the 44-year-old Beckham challenged his former clubs Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris St Germain to join in the charity effort. The winner will be chosen from a raffle with fans able to purchase 10 entries for $10.

MLS is also offering up a one-off prize with a fan getting a chance to replace commissioner Don Garber's name on the game ball when the league returns to action and on the 2021 MLS All-Star game ball, which also includes a VIP All-Star weekend trip. A number of high-profile athletes have stepped up to join the cause, including six-times Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, who is offering tickets to his first home game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, dinner and/or a workout plus his game jersey and cleats. (Report by Reuters)

Texan Republican senator, Dan Cranshaw, joins the chorus of harsh criticsim of China among conservative US politicians...

Egypt flies medical supplies to US

A reversal of roles indeed. News that Egypt has sent medical supplies to the US comes after a leading economist compared the US government's response to the coronavirus crisis to that of "a third world country"...


Clinical trials of new Covid-19 vaccine to begin on humans tomorrow

The first clinical trials for a new Covid-19 vaccine will go ahead on humans at Oxford University from Thursday and in Langen, Germany.


Italy registers 437 new deaths

On Tuesday, Italy reported 97 deaths less than Monday with 437, bringing the death toll to 25,085. There were 3,370 new cases, putting the total at 187,372. As seen from the graph above, while Italy's numbers remain high, the figures for daily new cases has been dropping since the peak around March 20. 


Hong Kong to extend social distancing measure by another fortnight



"We're not hiding anything" insists Coronavirus-free Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan, one of the few nations in the world that has reported no cases of the new coronavirus, insisted on Wednesday its official data was true and it was not fudging figures.

"If there was a single confirmed coronavirus case we would have immediately informed ... the World Healthcare Organization in line with our obligations," Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov explained today. "We are not hiding anything".

Healthcare Minister Nurmukhammed Amannepesov told the same briefing the Central Asian nation had 30,000 test kits at its disposal and was ordering 40,000 more from Russia, Turkey and Germany. He said 151 people remained in quarantine zones, most of them Turkmen citizens working as long-haul truck drivers and ship crew members.

Turkmenistan has reopened most of its border crossing points and was preparing to reopen the remaining ones, on the Iranian border, he said, after suspending all freight traffic at the end of last month.

The country's football league resumed last weekend, becoming the third former Soviet state to do so.


German shoppers not rushing back as shops reopen for business

German consumers are counting their pennies rather than returning to shop in large numbers as stores gradually reopen after being locked down during the coronavirus crisis, the national retailers association said on Wednesday. Stores of up to 800 square metres (8,600 square feet) were allowed to open again from Monday, along with car and bicycle dealers and bookstores, provided they adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene rules.

But the HDE association said the mood among shoppers remained very subdued due to concerns about jobs and finances. "Consumers are in a crisis mode, consumer sentiment is in the doldrums," a spokesman said. In some parts of Europe's biggest economy, larger stores have also been allowed to open, such as furniture and homeware chain Ikea in the western state of North Rhine Westphalia. Elsewhere, large stores such as Media Markt and Saturn have cordoned off a smaller sales area to meet the 800-square-metre rule.

The HDE has criticised the decision to only allow smaller stores to open, calling the move confusing for customers and said both large and small shops were capable of respecting the rules. Germany's lockdown took effect on 17 March. The government says social distancing rules will remain in force until at least 3 May but hopes schools can reopen the following day

UK Coronavirus deaths up on yesterday's figures

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the United Kingdom rose by 759 to bring the total number of deaths in hospitals to 18,100. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today that the UK has reached the peak of the curve: "We are at the peak. But before we relax any social distancing rules or make changes to them we have set out the five tests that have to be met".


Red Square

Russia’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 5,236 in one day

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 5,236 during the past 24 hours taking the total number of cases to nearly 58,000 in all regions, TASS report. Almost half of that figure, 43% (2,275) are asymptomatic.

"Russia has registered a rise in the coronavirus infection cases to 57,999 (+9.9%) in 85 regions. Some 420 people have been discharged over the past day and 4,420 over the entire period. Over the past day, 57 coronavirus patients have died. The total death toll in Russia is 513," the crisis center reported.

Moscow has confirmed 2,548 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number in the capital to 31,981.


Japan to block foreign acquisition of drugs and ventilator makers

Japan plans to block foreign companies from acquiring domestic drug and medical equipment makers, to protect access to medicine and ventilators that have proven critical amid the coronavirus outbreak, a media report said on Wednesday.

The Japanese government will add companies that specialise in vaccines, medicine and advanced medical equipment to its list of businesses deemed critical to national security, the Nikkei financial daily said. The move comes as Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp's has gained global attention for its anti-flu drug Avigan, which is being tested as a treatment for Covid-19.

German government sources told Reuters last month that the U.S. administration was looking into how it could gain access to a potential vaccine being developed by German firm, CureVac. German officials have said they wanted to ensure that vaccines against the coronavirus were developed in Germany and Europe.

WHO updates

Covid-19 numbers at a glance at midday:

UK: total confirmed cases 130,184 / total deaths: 17,378

Canada: total confirmed cases 39,405 / total deaths: 1,915

Australia: total confirmed cases 6,547 / total deaths: 67

Spain: total confirmed cases 208,389 / total deaths 21,717

Italy: total confirmed cases 183,957 / total deaths 24,648

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Pedro Sánchez

Spain records a further 435 deaths, five more than Tuesday, although the number of new cases remains at 2%. In Spain, a total of 21,717 people have lost their lives due to Covid-19. 

WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"The worst of the coronavirus is yet to come". WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, voiced concerns over the spread of the virus in Africa. He also addressed Donald Trump's claims of a lack of transparency.

FT trend review

The latest thread from John Burn-Murdoch on global coronavirus trends. If you're not already familiar with this, the latter tweets explain some of the reasoning behind the graphs/data.

Covid-19 statistics at a glance

UK: total confirmed cases 130,184 / total deaths: 17,378

Canada: total confirmed cases 39,405 / total deaths: 1,915

Australia: total confirmed cases 6,547 / total deaths: 67

Spain: total confirmed cases 204,178 / total deaths 21,282

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Covid-19 live blog

Hello and welcome to our live daily coverage of the news that surrounds the coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout the day we will aim to keep you up to date with all the latest developments from around the world related to the Covid-19 crisis that has devastated many countries.