India reports biggest rise in coronavirus cases: Live updates
  • Spanish authorities have announced that they will partially lift the lockdown restrictions in Madrid on Monday, after the pace of the coronavirus contagion in the region slowed down.

  • India has registered its biggest jump of coronavirus cases in 24 hours with 6,000 new infections as the country loosens a nationwide lockdown.

  • Russia has reported 150 new deaths, a record daily rise, taking the country’s official national death toll from the virus to 3,249.

  • More than five million people around the world are now confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. More than 328,000 people have died globally while some 1.9 million people have recovered.

Here are all the latest updates:

12:15 GMT – Spain partly lifts lockdown in Madrid, allows terraces reopening

Spanish authorities will lift part of the lockdown restrictions in Madrid on Monday after the pace of the coronavirus contagion in the region slowed down, the Madrid regional health department said.

The restrictions in Madrid are now the same as in most of the country that started phasing out the lockdown in early May.

Bars and restaurants in the capital will be allowed to reopen terraces and groups of up to 10 people will be allowed to meet.

12:00 GMT – Human trials of British coronavirus vaccine to reach 10,000

Oxford University and AstraZeneca are recruiting around 10,000 adults and children in Britain for trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, a day after receiving US backing worth up to $1.2bn.

Researchers are mainly looking for healthcare staff and other public-facing workers to join the trial as in order to get a clear signal on the vaccine’s efficacy, they need a minimum number to catch the coronavirus in their everyday lives.

An initial trial that started on April 23 has already seen more than 1,000 volunteers aged 18-55 receive the injection and Oxford said phases II and III will add people aged 56 and older as well as children of 5 to 12 years.

11:45 GMT – Saudi Arabia, UAE mosques to stay closed for Eid prayers

Mosques will remain closed for prayers on the Eid Al-Fitr festival, Saudi and United Arab Emirates officials said, calling on the population to adhere to safety guidelines to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Eid, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, may fall on Saturday or Sunday in the Gulf region.

11:20 GMT – Malaysia PM in home quarantine

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be home quarantined for 14 days after an officer who attended a meeting with him this week tested positive for the new coronavirus, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Muhyiddin tested negative but “all members of the meeting have been instructed to undergo screening and 14 days’ home quarantine”, the statement added.

Muhyiddin Yassin, former Malaysian deputy Prime Minister, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kuala Lumpur

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin assummed office in March [Ebrahim Harris/Reuters]

10:55 GMT – UK gov’t took decision to stop mass testing in March: Advisers

The United Kingdom decided to end mass testing and contact tracing of those with or suspected of having COVID-19 in March because a surge in new cases at that time would have been beyond the system’s capacity, government advisers said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for scaling back testing and tracing in March, only to ramp up the system in recent weeks to try to ease out of a lockdown to tackle the outbreak that has all but shut down the economy.

Johnson’s government repeatedly says it has been guided in its fight against the coronavirus by scientific and medical advice, and John Newton, Britain’s testing coordinator, said it was ministers who ultimately decided on contact tracing.

10:40 GMT – Yemen’s health system ‘has in effect collapsed’: UN

Coronavirus is believed to be spreading throughout Yemen, where the health care system “has in effect collapsed”, the United Nations said, appealing for urgent funding.

Referring to aid agencies, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a Geneva briefing: “We hear from many of them that Yemen is really on the brink right now. The situation is extremely alarming, they are talking about that the health system has in effect collapsed.

“They are talking about having to turn people away because they do not have enough (medical) oxygen, they do not have enough personal protective equipment,” he said.

Yemen authorities have reported 184 cases including 30 deaths to the World Health Organization (WHO), its latest figures show. “The actual incidence is almost certainly much higher,” Laerke said.

10:20 GMT – South Africa scientists say up to 50,000 deaths possible

South Africa could see up to 50,000 coronavirus deaths and as many as three million infections by the end of the year as the southern hemisphere winter leads to a higher rate of infection, scientific models showed.

The country already has the highest number of infections and deaths on the African continent, with more than 18,000 identified cases and 339 deaths, but a national lockdown entering its eighth week had slowed infections.

However, scientists and statisticians hired by the health ministry to model the spread of the disease said the country could see between 35,000 and 50,000 coronavirus deaths by November.

09:55 GMT – Indonesia reports 634 new cases

Indonesia registered 634 new cases of coronavirus infection, taking its total to 20,796, according to health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto also announced 48 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the country’s tally to 1,326. More than 5,000 people have so far recovered.

Indonesia rice

Indonesia reports 48 more COVID-19 deaths, taking the total to 1,326 [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters] 

09:40 GMT – Soros says coronavirus threatens EU’s survival

George Soros, the billionaire financier, has cautioned that the European Union’s survival was threatened by the new coronavirus unless it could issue perpetual bonds or “consols” to help weak members such as Italy.

“If the EU is unable to consider it now, it may not be able to survive the challenges it currently confronts,” Soros said in a transcript of a question-and-answer session emailed to reporters. “This is not a theoretical possibility; it may be the tragic reality.”

Soros said the EU would have to maintain its AAA credit rating to issue such debt – and thus have to have tax-raising powers to cover the cost of the bonds – so suggested it could simply authorise the taxes rather than imposing them.

09:15 GMT –  Virus, lockdowns and the looming second wave

One by one, governments worldwide are gradually easing tough restrictions meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus – even as, in some countries, infection numbers continue to rise.

The move highlights the pressing need to cautiously reopen economies and restore livelihoods, but the path towards post-coronavirus normality is arduous and long.

With no known treatment or vaccine available, experts warn that an extensive lifting of controls could spark a second – and perhaps deadlier – wave of a pandemic that has so far sickened more than five million people and caused more than 330,000 related deaths.

Read Ayseba Umutlu’s story here.

Spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Strasbourg

The WHO has repeatedly urged countries to be cautious about easing restrictions [File: Patrick Hertzog/Reuters]

09:00 GMT – Malaysia reports 78 new coronavirus cases with one death

Malaysian health authorities have reported 78 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 7,137.

The health ministry also reported one new death, bringing the total toll up to 115.

08:45 GMT – Turkish foreign visitor arrivals plummet 99 percent in April

The number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey has plummeted by 99.26 percent year-on-year in April to 24,238, data from the tourism ministry showed, as the coronavirus outbreak in the country shut down airports and tourism.

In the first four months of the year, the number of foreign visitors fell 51.2 percent to 4.26 million, the data showed.

08:30 GMT – Thailand to extend coronavirus emergency to end of June

Thailand will maintain its state of emergency over the coronavirus until the end of June, its COVID-19 task force said, in an effort to keep infections under control as the government prepares to ease restrictions further.

Shopping malls and department stores reopened at the weekend after almost two months of closure as the number of cases slowed, but bars, nightclubs, cinemas, playgrounds and some sports remain off-limits.

The government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration proposed the extension in response to developments with the global pandemic and to allow time to prepare for further easing at the start of next month.

Thailand malls

People stand in line to enter the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok [Mladen Antonov/AFP]

08:10 GMT – Britain extends COVID-19 mortgage payment holiday

Britain has extended its mortgage payment holiday scheme for homeowners in financial difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic for another three months.

The Treasury said more than 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays had been taken up from a scheme that was launched in March. Homeowners still struggling financially could also have the option of making reduced payments.

“Everyone’s circumstances will be different, so when homeowners can pay some or all of their mortgage, they should work with their lender on a plan; but if they are still struggling, I want them to know that help is there,” John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury said in a statement.

07:45 GMT – Russia reports record daily rise in new coronavirus deaths

Russia has reported 150 new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a record daily rise, taking the country’s official nationwide death toll from the virus to 3,249.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre reported 8,894 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 326,448.

Coronavirus cases in Russia exceed 300 thousands

Russia has recorded 326,448 cases of the novel coronavirus [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

07:30 GMT – Interactive: How did we get to five million COVID-19 cases?

More than five million people have now been infected by the new coronavirus worldwide.

Here is an interactive made by Al Jazeera to help people understand how the outbreak has globally evolved.

Made with Flourish

07:00 GMT – India reports biggest 24-hour rise in virus cases

India has registered some 6,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases, a roughly five percent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended a lockdown that started on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

Outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai

 India has reported more than 118,000 confirmed cases [Hemanshi Kamani/Reuters] 

06:40 GMT – UK to set out quarantine measures for international arrivals

The United Kingdom will set out details of its plans for a quarantine for international arrivals, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will set out the details at a briefing later, he told Sky News.

06:10 GMT – Bulgaria to allow entry of citizens from EU, Schengen countries

Bulgaria, which has started to ease its lockdown, has scrapped a ban on the entry of visitors from the European Union and Schengen visa zone countries, the health ministry said in a statement.

In mid-March European Union member Bulgaria banned entry to its territory to travellers from many countries in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The health ministry said that the lifting of the ban also covers San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City. The ministry said that people arriving in Bulgaria would continue to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

I will be handing over this blog to my colleagues in Doha shortly. Here are the key developments from this morning:

  • Japan’s central bank is launching a $279bn programme to boost lending to small firms
  • New Zealand’s opposition switched leaders to counter soaring support for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over her handling of the coronavirus
  • The IMF and Ukraine agreed in principle on a new $5bn aid package

05:25 GMT – Japan central bank to boost lending to small firms

The Bank of Japan is offering 30 trillion yen ($279bn) in additional lending to help small firms struggling with the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus.

The central bank says it will start providing the funding to banks in June. The new measure brings the Bank of Japan’s total package of financial assistance to small and medium-sized firms to 75 trillion yen ($700bn).

It comes as data showed that Japan has slipped back into deflation for the first time in more than three years, with prices falling 0.2 percent in April.

05:17 GMT – Philippine legislator proposes tax targeting tech giants

Joey Salceda, a Philippine Congressman, has introduced a bill in Parliament aimed at taxing big tech firms such as Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and YouTube, Netflix and Spotify, to raise funds to battle the coronavirus.

The bill looks to raise 29 billion pesos ($571m) by imposing a value-added tax on digital services provided in the Philippines, a key growth area for e-commerce transactions as its people are among the world’s heaviest users of social media.

“We spent to fight COVID-19 and we need more to continue fighting it and recover,” Salceda, the bill’s principal author, told Reuters News Agency.

05:05 GMT – Thailand reports no new cases, no new deaths

Thailand reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths on Friday, maintaining the total of 3,037 confirmed cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

There are 2,910 patients who have recovered and returned home since the outbreak started, the government’s coronavirus taskforce said in an update.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok

People eat lunch at a food court of a department store after the Thai government eased coronavirus restrictions in Bangkok, Thailand on May 21, 2020 [Athit Perawongmetha/ Reuters]

04:46 GMT – Malaysia confirms more cases at migrant detention centre

Malaysia has reported 35 new coronavirus cases at an immigration detention centre on the outskirts of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general at the Malaysian health ministry, said the positive cases at the Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre include 17 people from Myanmar, 15 from India and one each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Egypt.

Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 1,800 migrants in at least two raids as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, raising concerns they could instead raise infection risks in overcrowded detention centres.

04:29 GMT – Australia’s most populous state to relax curbs on hospitality sector

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has said restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus will be eased to allow cafes, restaurants and pubs to have up to 50 seated patrons. 

“Losing 221,000 jobs in April was a disaster,” state premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney, referring to state-wide job losses. “We don’t want to see that continue.”

The measure will take effect on June 1. Nationally, nearly 600,000 people were forced out of work in April by the coronavirus restrictions.

04:05 GMT – New Zealand opposition changes leader

New Zealand’s conservative opposition has switched leaders in a last-gasp bid to counter the record support Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is enjoying for containing the coronavirus.

National Party legislators voted to ditch Simon Bridges after opinion polls suggested he was headed for a wipeout at a general election on September 19. His replacement is former agri-business executive Todd Muller.

A 1 News Colmar Brunton poll released on Thursday night put support for Ardern’s Labour Party up 18 points at 59 percent, a record for the centre-left grouping.

Ardern’s rating as preferred prime minister was 63 percent, up 21 points to the highest figure recorded by any legislator in the survey’s 25-year history.

03:40 GMT – Australia extends bans on cruise ships

Australia extended its ban on cruise ship visits for three months until September 17.

Australian Border Force said any cruise ship capable of carrying more than 100 passengers is prohibited from operating cruises in the country.

The ban has been in place since March 27, following deadly outbreaks linked to cruise ships.

02:07 GMT – No annual growth target for China, a first in decades

China took the rare move of not setting an annual growth target this year after the coronavirus battered the world’s second-largest economy and ravaged global growth.

Instead, given “great uncertainty” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing will “give priority to stabilising employment and ensuring living standards”, Premier Li Keqiang told the opening of the National People’s Congress.

It is the first time China has not set a gross domestic product (GDP) goal since the government started to publish such targets in 1990.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers his work report during the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 22, 2020 [Leo Ramirez/ AFP]

01:33 GMT – Dozens test positive at centres for stranded migrants in Panama

A Panama health official said 59 migrants stranded at Panamanian migration centres have tested positive for the coronavirus.

More than 2,500 migrants became stranded in Panama in March when the border with neighbouring Costa Rica was closed. The vast majority of those people are being held in migration centres in the southern Darien province.

“It is not easy to have 1,900 people in a small place,” Dr Juan Rosales told Reuters. “The work has been hard.”

01:02 GMT – Australia seeks exemption from UK quarantine

Australia is seeking an exemption from a requirement that travellers arriving in the United Kingdom quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in a statement: “Australia has led the world in the successful containment of COVID-19, which clearly means that travellers coming from Australia would pose a low risk to the rest of the world.”

Birmingham said Australia has no plans to open its borders to non-citizens, while all returning locals will still have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

00:46 GMT – IMF, Ukraine agree in principle on new $5bn aid package

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ukraine have reached an agreement in principle on a new $5bn aid package to help Kyiv battle the coronavirus crisis.

The agreement on the 18-month aid programme is subject to the approval of the IMF’s management and executive board, which will look at the deal “in the coming weeks”, the Washington-based lender said.

Ivanna Vladkova Hollar, the official who led the IMF negotiating team, said the deal would offer “budget support” to Kyiv while “consolidating achievements to date, and moving forward on important structural reforms to reduce key vulnerabilities”. 

00:08 GMT – Trump orders US flags lowered to half-mast for virus victims

Donald Trump, the president of the United States, says he will order the US flag to be flown at half-mast over the next three days as the death toll from COVID-19 approaches 100,000.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus,” he said in a Twitter post.

I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 21, 2020

The move follows a request from Democratic leaders to do so to recognise a “sad day of reckoning when we reach 100,000 deaths”.

00:03 GMT – Brazil passes 20,000 virus deaths after record 24-hour toll

The coronavirus death toll in Brazil surpassed 20,000 after a record number of deaths in a 24-hour period, the health ministry said.

The country is the epicentre of the outbreak in Latin America and its highest one-day toll of 1,188 pushed the overall death tally to 20,047.

Brazil has now recorded more than 310,000 cases, with experts saying a lack of testing means the real figures are probably much higher.

With its curve of infections and deaths rising sharply, the country of 210 million ranks third in the world in terms of total cases, behind the US and Russia.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

You can find all the updates from yesterday, May 21, here.

George Soros says coronavirus threatens EU’s survivalYou can now download all free assets in one place. This includes Watermark, Keyframe, Screener, XML, and Shotlist.(Adds details)

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) – George Soros, the billionaire financier, has cautioned that the European Union’s survival was threatened by the novel coronavirus unless it could issue perpetual bonds or “consols” to help weak members such as Italy.

“If the EU is unable to consider it now, it may not be able to survive the challenges it currently confronts,” Soros said in a transcript of a question-and-answer session emailed to reporters. “This is not a theoretical possibility; it may be the tragic reality.”

Soros said the EU would have to maintain its AAA credit rating to issue such debt – and thus have to have tax raising powers to cover the cost of the bonds – so suggested it could simply authorise the taxes rather than imposing them.

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