Coronavirus: Latest updates from around the world

Coronavirus has infected more than 2.7 million people around the world, with the death toll passing 190,000.
Coronavirus: Latest updates from around the world

Coronavirus has infected more than 2.7 million people around the world, with the death toll passing 190,000.

Here are the latest updates on the pandemic from around the world:

JAPAN

Quality checks are being carried out on the masks being given to every household after some turned out to be dirty and defective, Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

“We are checking very carefully,” he told reporters, while stressing the masks are meant to ease people’s worries about Covid-19.

Kowa, a textile and medical equipment company, and trading company Itochu apologised on Thursday, saying the masks they supplied the government were defective and are being recalled.

The handouts to 50 million households have been pejoratively dubbed “AbenoMask” by the Japanese public, a take on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” economic policies.

The reusable cloth masks come in packages of two and are delivered in postboxes. Japanese media reports said some were stained or mouldy, or had bugs in the packaging.

INDIA

A surge in cases of the coronavirus in the central Indian state of Maharashtra has propelled the country to a record 24-hour high on the eve of Ramadan.

Health authorities said that Maharashtra recorded 778 new cases on Thursday, bringing India’s total of confirmed cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, to 22,930.

India’s 1,680 new cases marked its biggest single-day jump since April 19, a day before India relaxed some restrictions for industry in a bid to help employ some of the millions of migrant workers who fled cities for their homes villages when the lockdown was announced on March 24.

Fearing rampant spread of the disease in the city’s crowded slums, officials in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, in Maharashtra, are developing a plan to administer doses of the Donald Trump-backed anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against Covid-19.

Hydroxychloroquine has long been used to treat malaria and anti-inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis but is not a proven treatment for Covid-19 and may cause heart rhythm problems.

Mumbai health official Dr Daksha Shah says the timeline and details of the programme are “under process”.

SOUTH KOREA

Officials are to strap electronic wristbands on people who ignore home-quarantine orders in South Korea’s latest use of tracking technology to control its outbreak.

Vice health minister Kim Gang-lip said those who refuse to wear the bands after breaking quarantine will be sent to shelters where they will be asked to pay for accommodation.

Officials said around 46,300 people are under self-quarantine. The number ballooned after the government began enforcing 14-day quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad on April 1 amid worsening outbreaks in Europe and the United States.

Although quarantined individuals have been required to download a tracking app that alerts authorities if they leave their homes, some of them have been caught slipping out by leaving their phones behind.

The wristbands will communicate with the phone apps through Bluetooth and alert authorities when people leave home or attempt to remove the bands.

AUSTRALIA

Parliament will sit for three days in mid-May in a sign that the wheels of government are returning to normal despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Parliament’s schedule was scrapped in March and a scaled-down assembly has met only two days since to pass billions of dollars in emergency economic measures.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that Parliament will sit on May 12 to 14 to deal with usual legislative business as well as some virus-related bills.

There will be fewer lawmakers than usual in the Senate and House of Representative chambers due to social distancing regulations. Mr Morrison said he expects more sitting weeks will be scheduled through June.

Obstacles to lawmakers meeting in the national capital include a shortage of domestic flights and most states demanding interstate travellers quarantine in hotels for two weeks.

CHINA

The country has reported no new Covid-19 deaths for the ninth straight day, and just six new cases of the virus.

Two of those were brought from overseas, with three domestic cases in Heilongjiang on the Russian border and one in the southern business hub of Guangdong.

Hospitals are still treating 915 cases, 57 listed as serious, while 999 people are being isolated and monitored as either suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing symptoms.

The country’s death toll from the global pandemic first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year remains at 4,632 among 82,804 cases.

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