The number of recorded cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 3.5 million worldwide, with experts warning underreporting in some countries may be masking the true scale of the pandemic.
Growth rates are easing in North America and Europe but case numbers are still rising in other areas, with Brazil the first country in Latin America to reach 100,000 cases.
In Australia, the National Cabinet will welcome New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to join them at tomorrow’s meeting to discuss approaches to easing some coronavirus restrictions.
This story is being updated regularly throughout Monday. You can also listen to the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Today’s top stories
No new cases confirmed in New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern to take part in National Cabinet
New Zealand has had 1,137 confirmed cases of coronavirus.(AAP: David Rowland)
New Zealand has recorded no new cases of coronavirus for the first time since March 16.
The country’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand remained at 1,137, with 20 deaths.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern will join Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australia’s state and territory leaders at tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting.
They are expected to discuss the two countries’ approaches to the pandemic as well as the Federal Government’s COVIDSafe coronavirus tracing app.
Ms Ardern said the Cabinet would be looking at the creation of a “trans-Tasman bubble” for travel between the two countries, and noted from the conversations she’d had with Mr Morrison so far, it was clear they shared a similar perspective on the desired timeline for easing coronavirus restrictions.
“We don’t want to give away the gains we have made, nor does Australia,” she said.
Mr Morrison has previously indicated New Zealand would likely be the first place reopened for Australian travellers once restrictions begin to ease.
Another death in Sydney nursing home, 19 new cases linked to Melbourne abattoir
Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan provided an update on some key numbers this afternoon:
- 650,000 tests have been conducted across the country
- 6,825 cases have been confirmed
- 28 patients are in intensive care
- 4.5 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe tracing app
In New South Wales, a 15th resident with coronavirus has died at the Newmarch House aged care facility in western Sydney, bringing the national death toll to 96.
NSW authorities also recorded the lowest number of new infections in a 24-hour period since the outbreak began in February, with just one new case confirmed from more than 5,500 tests.
The new case was a seven-year-old boy with mild symptoms. Warragamba Public School, where the boy attended, was closed for cleaning today.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews gives an update on case numbers
Victoria has recorded 22 new cases of coronavirus, with 19 of those linked to a Melbourne meatworks.
The State’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, defended his decision not to name the meatworks, which has now been linked to 34 cases, saying the community was not at risk.
Premier Daniel Andrews said 13,000 tests were carried out in Victoria yesterday, which he said was a record for any state.
In the ACT, a woman in her 20s tested positive, with authorities believing she acquired the infection overseas. Last week, the territory announced it had no known active cases.
In Queensland, just three new cases were confirmed today, while Western Australia reported no new cases.
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Global cases surpass 3.5 million
While growth rates are slowing in places, some countries in Africa and Latin America, such as Brazil, are still recording a concerning rise in cases.(Reuters: Pilar Olivares)
Global coronavirus cases have now surpassed 3.5 million, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, with some experts concerned about underreporting even as the rate of fatalities and new cases slows.
North America and European countries, where growth rates are easing, still account for most of the new infections reported in recent days.
But case numbers have been rising from smaller bases in Latin America, Africa and Russia, and experts have expressed concern that the overall data falls well short of the true impact of the pandemic.
Johns Hopkins University data puts the global tally at more than 3,506,000, including almost 250,000 deaths.
That compares with around 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness caused annually by seasonal influenza, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but falls far short of the Spanish flu, which began in 1918 and infected an estimated 500 million people.
“We still have to be sceptical about the numbers we get, that’s a huge problem,” said Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital.
“The mortality rate is also 10 times higher than for influenza in all age groups.”
This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means and what we can learn from countries that have slowed the spread.
Donald Trump says he expects up to 90,000 US deaths from coronavirus
Donald Trump said the US needed to open safely but “as quickly as possible”.(AP Photo: Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump has increased his projection for the total number of deaths in the country from coronavirus to between 80,000 and 90,000, up by more than 20,000 on what he had suggested a few weeks ago.
The death toll stands at 67,680, far more than the 28,884 who have died in Italy, the second-worst-hit country.
Mr Trump was speaking during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
He said the United States needed to “open safely but as quickly as possible”, and was optimistic about the country’s ability to bounce back.
“It is horrible to go through, but it is working out,” he said.
Mr Trump said he believed a vaccine could be available by the end of the year. However, US public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away.
While the daily death toll in America’s worst-hit state, New York, is declining, the rest of the country still appears to be “climbing the curve”, according to ABC reporter Casey Briggs.
Coronavirus deaths decreasing in New York but rising everywhere else in the country
Brazil becomes first country in Latin America to record 100,000 cases
The total number of coronavirus cases in Brazil has risen above 100,000, making it the ninth country to reach that mark.
There were 4,588 new cases and 275 deaths in the last day, according to Brazil’s Health Ministry.
On Sunday (local time), Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro gave a speech to hundreds of supporters in which he attacked Congress and the courts, underlining his increasing isolation as he downplays the impacts of coronavirus on Latin America’s largest country.
Jair Bolsonaro, who previously called coronavirus a “little flu”, gives a thumbs up to supporters on Sunday (local time).(AP Photo: Eraldo Peres)
He previously dismissed coronavirus as a “little flu” and said the economic fallout of quarantining measures would be deadlier that the virus itself.
Dozens of public figures have signed an open letter to the Brazilian Government calling on officials to protect the nation’s indigenous people, who often live in remote locations with limited access to healthcare.
The Government has banned people from entering indigenous reserves during the pandemic. However, the state has also cut down on law enforcement against illegal loggers and miners in remote regions as a safety measure.
Queensland announces partial reopening of schools from next week
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the situation would be reviewed on May 15.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced schools in the state will partially reopen from next week.
Kindergarten, prep and years 1, 11 and 12 will return to school on May 11.
Ms Palaszczuk said all students would then return to classrooms from May 25 if everything went to plan, with the situation to be reviewed on May 15.
“We know how important the early years are and especially the senior school years,” she said.
State Education Minister Grace Grace said there would be increased cleaning and social-distancing measures would remain in place wherever possible.
Here’s the latest on when schools will reopen in all states or territories (if they haven’t already).
COVID-19 drug trial on military personnel resumes
A trial using Australian military personnel to test whether the anti-malarial drug chloroquine could be effective in stopping people from catching coronavirus has resumed after a number of ethics complaints.
The 14-week trial, run by the Australian Defence Force [ADF] Malaria and Infectious Diseases Institute, requires volunteers to take chloroquine for more than nine weeks.
A sub-committee had approved the trial in late March, but ethics committee members who were not on the sub-committee were “shocked” to have not been included in the approval process, saying they held concerns for participant welfare.
A spokesperson for the Department of Defence said the trial proposal had since been circulated to the full committee and ethics approval was reaffirmed in mid-April.
The ADF is currently engaging with state and territory health authorities to find more volunteers for the trial, with 42 volunteers signing up so far.
Research will be conducted over several months and its duration will depend on how the pandemic evolves.
Boris Johnson gives details of COVID-19 battle
Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care when his symptoms worsened on April 7.(Reuters: Henry Nicholls)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered more insight into his hospitalisation for coronavirus, telling a British newspaper he knew doctors were preparing for his possible death.
“They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” he told The Sun.
Mr Johnson spent three nights in intensive care during his week of treatment in a London hospital after falling ill with COVID-19.
He said the “bloody indicators kept going in the wrong direction” and that at one point, doctors discussed invasive ventilation.
“The bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my wind pipe,” he said.
Over the weekend, it was revealed Mr Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds had given their newborn son the middle name Nicholas, after two doctors who helped treat the Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson previously paid tribute to two nurses who had cared for him, Jenny McGee from New Zealand and Luis Pitarma from Portugal.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 315 overnight to 28,446, just short of the death toll in Europe’s worst-hit country Italy, which has 28,884 confirmed deaths.
More aged care visits to be allowed in Tasmania
Tasmania will ease restrictions around visits to aged care centres next week to be more in line with national guidelines.
In early April, the State Government banned all visits to aged care centres with the exception of visits for compassionate or end-of-life reasons.
However, this morning Premier Peter Gutwein said the restrictions would be lifted “as of midnight on Monday” and would allow for additional visits.
The National Cabinet advice is that residents can have two visitors a day.
Australian weekly spending down 20 per cent
Both discretionary and essential spending was down last week.(Dave Hunt, file photo: AAP)
The AlphaBeta financial analysis group has found that Australian weekly spending last week was down 20 per cent on what it would normally be.
That was led by a decline in discretionary spending, but essential spending was down as well.
However, AlphaBeta economist Andrew Charlton said there was a pick-up in spending early last month, when government stimulus cheques arrived in millions of bank accounts.
“You want it to act fast, you want it to get straight out there. And what we saw in our data was that people who received the stimulus spent most of it in two weeks,” he said.
“That’s a good thing because you want it to get out there circulating through the economy.”
India relaxes some restrictions as infection rate speeds up
Huge crowds gathered outside liquor stores in New Delhi as shops reopened on Monday.(Reuters: Adnan Abidi)
Authorities have been easing some restrictions in parts of India with few or no cases of coronavirus, drawing crowds of people to reopened shops.
There has been a near-total lockdown in place for five weeks, with only grocery stores, banks and pharmacies allowed to remain open.
In New Delhi, a designated hot spot where many lockdown restrictions remained, construction workers, Uber drivers and self-employed people such as housekeepers returned to work.
The sale of alcohol was banned during the lockdown, but on Monday, liquor stores were allowed to reopen. More than 100 people stood in line to enter one store in New Delhi.
At another liquor store in Old Delhi, police wielded bamboo batons to break up a 200-strong crowd pushing and shoving each other to get in.
India has confirmed 42,670 cases of coronavirus, including 1,395 deaths, but some experts fear it is yet to flatten the curve.
US-based think tank the Brookings Institute put the coronavirus infection rate at 5.5 per cent per day.
US Secretary of State says China ‘has a history of infecting the world’
Mike Pompeo said he had no reason to dispute the findings of US intelligence agencies.(AP: Andrew Harnik)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is a “a significant amount of evidence” that coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory.
He also tweeted that China had a “history of infecting the world”, in a possible reference to the previous outbreak of the respiratory virus SARS.
However, Mr Pompeo said he did not dispute US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the virus was not man-made.
US President Donald Trump previously speculated that China could have unleashed the coronavirus due to some kind of horrible “mistake”.
Last week, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it agreed with the “wide scientific consensus” that coronavirus was not “man-made or genetically modified”, but said it would continue to “rigorously examine” whether the outbreak was caused by an “accident at a laboratory in Wuhan”.
Spaniards and Italians look to enjoy the sunshine again
Spaniards were able to go outdoors to do exercise for the first time in seven weeks on Saturday.(AP: Manu Fernandez)
Spaniards have revelled in a second day of freedom, flocking outdoors in time-slots for age groups on the first weekend adults were allowed out since one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns was imposed in mid-March.
Though Spain’s COVID-19 outbreak has shrouded the nation in mourning for more than 25,000 dead, there was much-needed relief on a sunny spring day as people at last headed back to the streets, hills and sea.
To prevent overcrowding, Barcelona’s city council barred entry to its urban beaches, so thousands converged instead on the beachfront boardwalk.
In the capital Madrid, where parks and other large public spaces remain closed, runners and walkers shared narrow pavements and walkways.
The relaxation of exercise restrictions is one of the first steps in a four-phase plan to reopen Spain by the end of June.
Italians, meanwhile, are counting down the hours until Monday, when parks and public gardens will re-open across the country for strolling, jogging or bike riding.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned that if the rate of contagion starts rising again, such freedoms will be curtailed.
Random Afghanistan tests raise fears of widespread undetected infections
A health worker checks the temperature of car passengers in Kabul.(AP: Rahmat Gul)
One-third of 500 random coronavirus tests in the Afghan capital of Kabul have come back positive, raising fears of widespread undetected infections in one of the world’s most fragile states.
Afghanistan has performed only limited testing so far close to 12,000 with more than 2,700 confirmed infections, in a nation of 36.6 million.
Kabul and most other cities are in lockdown, but compliance has not been widespread. The death toll officially at 85 could be much higher.
More than 250,000 Afghans returned home from Iran since the beginning of the year, fanning out across their country without being tested or quarantined. Anecdotal reports have emerged of dozens of returnees dying.
Afghanistan’s health care system, devastated by four decades of war, is woefully unprepared for a major outbreak. It has only 400 ventilators.
Testing in Afghanistan has been sporadic and some of those infected have been hiding their symptoms, in part because of local stigma. In parts of the country, there have been reports of COVID-19 patients being shunned by their neighbours and refused food from local markets.
India, Russia struggling as numbers soar
An Indian Air Force helicopter showers flower petals on hospital staff in Mumbai, India.(AP: Rajanish Kakade)
From the United States to Europe and Asia, the easing of some coronavirus lockdowns brought millions out of their homes to enjoy the outdoors, yet the global pandemic is still slicing through the defences of other nations.
India on Sunday reported more than 2,600 infections, its biggest single-day jump, and new coronavirus cases in Russia exceeded 10,000 for the first time.
Days after the Russian Prime Minister tested positive, the nation announced 10,633 new infections on Sunday, nearly double the new cases reported a week ago.
While in India the number of confirmed cases neared 40,000 as the country of 1.3 billion marked the 40th day of a nationwide lockdown that has upended lives, and left millions jobless and hungry.
Health experts warn that a second wave of infections could hit unless testing is expanded dramatically after lockdowns are eased.
Global tourism likely won’t recover until 2023
A majority of commercial aircraft around the world have been grounded due to COVID-19.(AP: Firdia Lisnawati)
Tourism Economics, a data and consulting firm, predicts global travel demand won’t resume its normal pace until 2023.
Airlines have grounded nearly two-thirds of their planes as passengers vanish. Millions of people who depend on tourism have lost work.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicts global tourist arrivals or visits from tourists who come to their destinations and stay at least one night will fall 30 per cent this year from the record 1.5 billion in 2019.
In the US alone, an estimated 8 million tourism-related workers are now out of work, accounting for about one-third of total unemployment, according to president and CEO of the US Travel Association, Roger Dow.
In some places, governments are stepping in to help the sector. The French Government is paying around 80 per cent of furloughed hotel workers’ salaries.
McDonald’s trials virus-proof restaurant
Many restaurants in the Netherlands worry social distancing will put them out of business.(Reuters: Piroschka van de Wouw)
Big Macs delivered on meal trolleys, hand sanitisers at the entrance and designated waiting spots to separate customers could become a feature of McDonald’s restaurants in the Netherlands when they are allowed to reopen.
In a trial at a restaurant in the city of Arnhem, McDonald’s has been looking for ways to maintain social distancing when the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed.
Restaurants, bars and other public places in the Netherlands have been closed since March 15 in the country, which now has 40,769 cases of coronavirus and just over 5,000 deaths.
However, new infections have been dropping, prompting calls to loosen the lockdown after its current deadline of May 19.
If stores do reopen, they will have to keep customers and staff at least 1.5 metres apart to avoid a new wave of infections.
Tanzania to import unproven ‘cure’ from Madagascar
Medical experts are critical of the drink as no scientific tests have been done on it.(AP Photo/Alexander Joe)
Tanzania’s President has said he will send a plane to Madagascar to stock up on a herbal concoction promoted by that country’s president to treat COVID-19, despite no evidence that it works to treat the disease.
President John Pombe Magufuli also dismissed test kits used in the country as faulty, because he said they had returned positive results on samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw.
Mr Magufuli, whose Government has already drawn criticism for being secretive about the coronavirus outbreak and has previously asked Tanzanians to pray the coronavirus away, said the kits had “technical errors”.
“I have been in talks with Madagascar. They say they have discovered the medicine for COVID-19. We will send a plane to bring the medicine to Tanzania so that Tanzanians can benefit from it,” said Mr Magufuli as quoted by Africanews.
Congo-Brazzaville’s President has also promised to import the drink.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has promoted the herbal beverage, Covid Organics, on national television saying it will “change the course of history”. He claimed it had cured two cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar and alleviated symptoms in others.
He said it is made from artemisia, a bitterroot that is used in some malaria drugs. Medical experts are critical of the drink, pointing out that no scientific tests have been done on it.
“It’s likely that it could actually harm the health of the population, particularly that of children,” said the president of Madagascar’s Academy of Medicine, Marcel Razanamparany, in a statement.
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