Coronavirus sparked ‘tsunami of hate, xenophobia’: Live updates | News

  • As Europe and the US loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts express growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections.

  • WHO warns coronavirus could kill 83,000-190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million during that period if it is not contained.

  • Russia’s coronavirus cases, which now stand at over 177,000, have overtaken France and Germany to become the fifth-highest total in the world.
  • Japan’s household spending plunged 6 percent in March and while over-time pay shrank 4.1 percent.
  • Almost 269,000 reported killed worldwide from the disease with cases up to 3.8 million and 1.3 recovered. Cases in the US have reached 1.25 million with 75,500 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, May 8

10:40 GMT – Spain’s virus death tolls rises by 229

Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus rose to 229, up from 213 on the previous day, the health ministry reported.

Overall deaths rose to 26,299 from 26,070 on Thursday and the number of diagnosed cases rose to 222,857 up from 221,447 the day before, the ministry said.


10:20 GMT – Ireland’s adjusted unemployment rate hits record high

Ireland’s unemployment rate rose to 28.2 percent at the end of April including those receiving emergency coronavirus jobless benefit, the highest on record and up from just 4.8 percent before the crisis two months ago, the state’s statistics office said. 

The new COVID-19 adjusted unemployment rate increased from 15.5 percent in March after the number of people claiming the higher emergency payment more than doubled to 602,107, on top of the 216,900 on regular jobless benefits.

Excluding the emergency coronavirus payment, the unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent. 

10:00 GMT – UN: Civilian killings mounting in Syria amid pandemic

The UN human rights chief has accused the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group and other factions in Syria of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to step up violence on civilians, describing the situation as a “ticking time-bomb”.

“We are receiving more reports every day of targeted killings and bombings from one end of the country to the other, with many such attacks taking place in populated areas,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

“Various parties to the conflict in Syria, including ISIL, appear to view the global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to regroup and inflict violence on the population,” she added. 

We’re facing a double pandemic’: UN body warns of ‘mega-famines’

09:50 GMT – Facebook to allow employees to work remotely until year end

Facebook Inc said it would allow its workers who are able to work remotely to do so until the end of the year as the coronavirus pandemic forces governments to extend stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease.

The social media giant also expects most offices to stay closed until July 6, according to a company spokesperson.

Facebook event

Facebook said most offices will remain closed until July 6 [File: Elise Amendola/AP]

09:45 GMT – Germany doubts US claims of China virus lab leak: report

A German intelligence report casts doubts on US allegations that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory, Der Spiegel magazine reported.

An internal memo prepared for Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer “classifies the American claims as a calculated attempt to distract” from Washington’s own failings, Der Spiegel reported.

US President Donald Trump is attempting “to distract from his own mistakes and direct Americans’ anger at China”, Spiegel cited from the document.

09:05 GMT – China says it supports WHO review of global pandemic response

China said it supports the establishment of a panel led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, after facing global pressure to allow an international investigation.

The review should be conducted in an “open, transparent and inclusive manner” at an “appropriate time after the pandemic is over”, under the leadership of WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing.

09:00 GMT – World leaders scrutinised over face masks 

US President Donald Trump has not donned one. French President Emmanuel Macron boasted a small French flag on his. Slovakia’s president made a fashion statement by sporting a fuchsia-coloured one to match her outfit.

As the world starts emerging from coronavirus lockdowns, political leaders are being closely scrutinised over their choice to wear a mask – or not – as many people question seemingly mixed messages about the value of face coverings as infection barriers.

French President Macron visits a school in Poissy

France’s President Emmanuel Macron wears a protective face mask with a blue-white-red coloured ribbon as he gestures while speaking with schoolchildren at an elementary school in Poissy [Ian Langsdon/Reuters]

“The decision to wear or forgo a mask in public is based on what message the leader wants to convey,” behavioural scientist Jacqueline Gollan of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, told AFP news agency.

“They are more likely to wear a mask if the leader believes in promoting public health. They may forgo the mask if the leader believes that they should convey that the risk of transmission is low and things are normalised,” she said.

08:45 GMT – Former Greek health minister dies of virus

Former Greek health minister, cardiologist and university professor Dimitris Kremastinos has died of the new coronavirus, Greek officials. He was 78.

Kremastinos, a widely respected doctor who became a household name in Greece as the personal physician of late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in the mid-1990s, was admitted to Athens’s public Evangelismos hospital on March 26 and was being treated in the intensive care unit.

News of his death was made public by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias. 

08:30 GMT – South Korea tracks new outbreak in nightclubs

South Korean health authorities are investigating a small but growing cluster of coronavirus cases linked to a handful of Seoul nightclubs, at a time when the country is moving to less restrictive social distancing measures.

At least 15 cases have been identified with connections to clubs in Itaewon, a neighbourhood popular with Koreans and foreigners in the capital, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday.

“These venues have all the dangerous conditions that we were the most concerned about,” KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said, referring to crowding and ventilation issues.

South Korea

A list of precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease is seen at an entrance of a club in Seoul [Yonhap via Reuters]

08:00 GMT – Qatar’s ‘coronavirus rate not high, but realistic’

It has been nearly two months since Qatar implemented a series of measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The country has, to date, reported 18,890 cases and 12 deaths.

In our latest episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Qatar’s minister of public health, Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, discusses the country’s plans to combat the coronavirus.

07:50 GMT – Japan, US agree to cooperate in COVID-19 fight

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Trump have agreed to cooperate closely in developing COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, and in their efforts to boost their economies.

The two leaders held telephone talks as they seek to reopen businesses in their respective countries.

“It was extremely meaningful to be able to reassure Japan-US cooperation via telephone talks between the two leaders just as the international society is expected to unite and tackle the (pandemic),” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.


07:30 GMT – Russia reports over 10,000 cases again

The number of new coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 10,699 over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 187,859, the coronavirus crisis response centre said.

It was the sixth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000, but down on Thursday’s record daily rise of 11,231.

It also reported 98 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,723.

07:10 GMT – Afghan health minister tests positive for COVID-19

Afghanistan’s Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz has contracted the COVID-19 disease, as the war-ravaged country sees a surge in cases of the virus, officials confirmed.

Waheedullah Mayar, spokesman for the health ministry, told Anadolu news agency the minister had experienced symptoms of the coronavirus for the past few days. He got a positive test result on Thursday.

“The health minister’s health is stable, and he is under isolation at his residence,” he added. 

06:50 GMT – Malaysian businesses hit hard by lockdown

Malaysian business has been hammered by a lockdown imposed in mid-March to try contain the new coronavirus pandemic, according to a government survey. 

Some 42.5 percent of the 4,094 companies surveyed by the Department of Statistics said they will need at least six months to recover from the restrictions, which until Monday required people to stay at home unless buying essentials or commuting to work.

Malaysia’s retail sales fell 5.7 percent to a seven-year low in March, the department reported separately, with unemployment climbing 17 percent year-on-year to reach 3.9 percent.

06:20 GMT – Hong Kong gyms, bars and cinemas reopen 

Hong Kong started easing major social distancing measures with bars, gyms, beauty parlours and cinemas reopening their doors after the financial hub largely halted local transmissions of the deadly coronavirus.

Queues formed outside gyms in the semi-autonomous Chinese city for employees to check temperatures as people celebrated the return of some normalcy to the city.

06:00 GMT – WWII commemorations downsized in Europe

Large-scale parades to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe have been downsized. 

The anniversary of Nazi Germany’s 1945 unconditional surrender after a war that cost 50 million lives is a holiday in Berlin this year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are due to lay wreaths at the country’s main memorial.


A contractor puts fresh flags on the Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall in central London [Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP]

Ceremonies across France have been drastically scaled-down, although President Emmanuel Macron will still be attending an event on the Champs-Elysees.

In the United Kingdom, street parades by veterans have been cancelled.

05:40 GMT – UN chief: Coronavirus has sparked ‘tsunami of hate’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “all-out effort” to end the “tsunami of hate and xenophobia” sparked by the novel coronavirus pandemic, without naming specific countries.

“Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets,” Guterres said in a statement. “Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred.”

According to Guterres, migrants and refugees have been “vilified as a source of the virus – and then denied access to medical treatment.”

Hello, this is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over the live updates from my colleague Ted Regencia

05:01 GMT – Thailand reports eight new coronavirus cases

Thailand on Friday reported eight new coronavirus cases but no deaths, bringing the total to 3,000 cases and 55 deaths since the outbreak started in January.

Of the new cases, three are from the southern province of Yala where authorities are aggressively testing the population due to high infection rates. Five other new cases are migrants who have been detained at an immigration detention centre in southern Songkhla province.

Slowing numbers of new cases have prompted Thailand to cautiously allow some businesses this week to reopen after weeks of semi-lockdown.

Bangkok, Thailand

People practicing social distancing sit and eat a meal at a market in Bangkok after restrictions were eased this week [Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]

03:23 GMT – Former Japanese diplomat dies from coronavirus

Former Japanese diplomat Yukio Okamoto, a one-time adviser to prime ministers and expert on ties with the United States, died late last month after contracting the novel coronavirus, his consultancy confirmed on Friday, according to Reuters news agency.

After retiring from the foreign ministry in 1991, Okamoto, 74, served as an adviser to then-prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on thorny issues related to Okinawa, home to the bulk of US troops in Japan.

He also advised then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi from 2001-2004 and was a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies.

“This is a shock. And from the coronavirus!” said Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on social media.

Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the country’s state of emergency until the end of May [Eugene Hoshiko/AP]

02:58 GMT – Many states disregarding Trump’s guideline on reopening 

Many governors across the US are disregarding or creatively interpreting White House guidelines for safely easing restrictions and letting businesses reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, an Associated Press analysis found.

The AP determined that 17 states did not meet a key benchmark set by the White House for loosening up — a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or positive test rates. And yet many of those have begun to reopen or are about to do so, including Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.

Asked Thursday about states reopening without meeting the benchmarks, President Donald Trump said: “The governors have great power as to that, given by us. We want them to do that. We rely on them. We trust them. And hopefully they are making the right decisions.”

02:18 GMT – Pandemic sets Japan on course for deep recession

Japan’s household spending plunged in March and service-sector activity shrank at a record pace in April, reinforcing expectations that the coronavirus pandemic is tipping the world’s third-largest economy into deep recession, Reuters news agency reported.

The weak readings make it a near certainty the economy suffered a second straight quarter of contraction in January-March, the technical definition of a recession, and was on track for a deeper decline in the current quarter as the health crisis kept shoppers home and businesses closed.

01:40 GMT – Argentina’s Fernandez rises in polls over handling of COVID-19 crisis

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has received a 68.5 percent approval rating in April over his handling of the country’s response to the spread of COVID-19, buttressing his political clout as he faces off against creditors with a major debt revamp.

Argentina is in a nationwide lockdown, which has been extended until at least May 10, helping slow the spread of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, which total just over 5,000 with 270 deaths. That is far less than in nearby Chile, Peru or Brazil.

Coronavirus - Argentina

A man disinfects a street in the “Villa 31” neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday [Natacha Pisarenko/AP]

01:08 GMT – Eyes an important entry point of coronavirus infection – Hong Kong study

The eyes could be an “important route” for the coronavirus infection to enter the human body, according to researchers from Hong Kong.

The South China Morning post also quoted University of Hong Kong scientists as saying that the virus is 100 times more infectious through the eyes and airways than SARS.

00:40 GMT – Australia prepares to ease coronavirus restrictions in four-week stages

Australia will ease social distancing restrictions in four-week increments, two sources told Reuters, as the country’s national cabinet meets on Friday to decide which curbs to remove first amid dwindling numbers of coronavirus cases.

With fewer than 20 new infections each day, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday began talks with state and territory leaders to decide which restrictions will be eased.

The easing will carried out in four-week increment to ensure measures do not lead to a resurgence in infections, two sources familiar with the plan told Reuters.

00:01 GMT – In clash with riot police, Hondurans block burial of coronavirus victim

Residents of an impoverished part of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, have clashed with riot police after blocking the burial of a person suspected of having died from the novel coronavirus, according to a Reuters news agency witness.

Riot police fired tear gas when the residents armed with rocks burned tires and blocked a road leading to the Amor Enterno Cemetery with stones and construction material in the La Era neighbourhood, the witness said.

The Central American country has so far reported 1,461 coronavirus cases, many of them in the capital, and 99 deaths. Residents said their neighbourhood lacked adequate sanitation for such burials.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

For key developments from yesterday, May 7, go here

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