Malaysian authorities are rounding up undocumented migrants as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, the country’s police chief said late on Friday, after hundreds of migrants and refugees were detained in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Over 700 migrants were taken into custody, including young children and ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, during Friday’s raid in a downtown area where thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers live, rights groups had said.
The operation was aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas amid movement curbs imposed to contain the spread of the outbreak, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador told state news agency Bernama.
“We cannot allow them to move freely… as it will be difficult for us to track them down if they leave identified locations,” Abdul Hamid was quoted as saying.
Those detained would be placed at a single location for monitoring until the movement curbs were lifted, he said according to Bernama.
The arrests followed public anger in recent days over the presence of migrant foreigners, particularly Rohingya refugees, with some in Malaysia accusing them of spreading the coronavirus and being a burden on state resources.
Malaysia has around 2 million registered foreign workers but authorities estimate many more are living in the Southeast Asian country without proper documents. Malaysia does not formally recognise refugees, regarding them as illegal migrants.
The Australian government has urged any citizens or residents currently in Africa to get a flight out as soon as possible, if they can.
“We have no plans to provide evacuation [flights],” it said.
“The government cannot guarantee you access to medical services if the situation gets worse.”
World Health Organization officials in Africa have said the Covid-19 outbreak is still increasing across the continent despite widespread efforts at containment.
Most African nations are hoping they can slow the spread of the disease to protect their very limited health facilities, which aren’t able to treat large numbers of sick people.
US congress investigating Carnival Cruise Line
US congress has launched an investigation into the conduct of Carnival Cruise Line over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, questioning why the company did not act sooner to protect passengers and staff.
Dozens of people have died and more than 1,500 confirmed Covid-19 infections have been recorded in connection with Carnival’s ships, which saw major outbreaks at least nine ships including, the Diamond Princess, the Zaandam and the Ruby Princess.
In a letter to Carnival, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chair Peter DeFazio said the company is “still trying to sell this cruise line fantasy and ignoring the public health threat posed by coronavirus to potential future passengers and crew.”
Referring to an investigation by Bloomberg into the company, DeFazio said the reports suggested “Carnival were aware of the threats to some of its ships and did not take appropriate actions, which may have led to greater infections and the spread of the disease.”
In response to the allegations, the company told the Guardian in a statement: “Our goal is the same as the committee’s goal: to protect the health, safety and well-being of our guests and crew, along with compliance and environmental protection. We are reviewing the letter and will fully cooperate with the committee.”
The House investigation comes as more than 100,000 crew members remain stranded at sea, some with Covid-19 outbreaks on board. At least 18 people have died.
This is a beautiful read from my colleague Alyx Gorman about her very real wedding last weekend, attended by hundreds of family and friends from around the world – all virtually.
Covid-19 had already robbed the world of thousands of lives, jobs and freedoms – but could it give us our dream wedding? No complex travel arrangements, no savings drained. When most people’s realities have been completely upended, getting married on the internet just didn’t seem that weird any more. We could skip the most painful gut churn of wedding planning – weighing up our love for our friends against the cost of feeding them – and invite anyone who wanted to come. We just had to act fast.
China reported one new coronavirus case for May 1, down from 12 a day earlier, data from the country*s health authority showed on Saturday.
The new case was imported, the National Health Commission (NHC) said, down from six imported cases a day earlier.
China reported no domestic transmission cases down from six the day before.
The NHC also reported 20 new asymptomatic cases for 1 May, down from 25 a day earlier.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 82,875. With no new deaths on Friday, the toll remained at 4,633.
Nearly 3,000 crew of a cruise ship belonging to German tourism giant TUI have been quarantined on board after one person tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company said on Friday.
Fifteen crew members of the Mein Schiff 3 were tested after showing mild flu symptoms, with one of them testing positive for COVID-19.
All 2,899 crew members would remain in quarantine on board in the ship’s home port of Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast until further notice, TUI said in a statement.
The cruise ship had no passengers on board, TUI added.
TUI, the leader in global tourism, has agreed a 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) bridging loan from the German government to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on one of the hardest-hit sectors.
Mexico’s health ministry reported on Friday 1,515 new known coronavirus cases and 113 deaths, bringing the country’s total to 20,739 cases and 1,972 deaths.
The U.S. government was slow to understand how much coronavirus was spreading from Europe, which helped drive the acceleration of outbreaks across the nation, a top health official has said.
Limited testing and delayed travel alerts for areas outside China contributed to the jump in U.S. cases starting in late February, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We clearly didn’t recognise the full importations that were happening,” Schuchat told The Associated Press.
In an article published by the CDC looking back on the US response, Schuchat suggested the nation’s top public health agency missed opportunities to slow the spread.
The CDC is responsible for the recognition, tracking and prevention of just such a disease. But the agency has had a low profile during this pandemic, with White House officials controlling communications and leading most press briefings.
“This report seems to challenge the idea that the China travel ban in late January was instrumental in changing the trajectory of this pandemic in the United States,” said Jason Schwartz, assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly celebrated a federal decision, announced on 31 January, to stop entry into the US of any foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the previous 14 days. That took effect on 2 February.
China had imposed its own travel restrictions earlier, and travel out of its outbreak areas did indeed drop dramatically.
But in her article, Schuchat noted that nearly 2 million travellers arrived in the US from Italy and other European countries during February. The US government didn’t block travel from there until 11 March.
“The extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importations and the rapid spread,” she told the AP. “I think the timing of our travel alerts should have been earlier.”
She also noted in the article that more than 100 people who had been on nine separate Nile River cruises during February and early March had come to the U.S. and tested positive for the virus, nearly doubling the number of known U.S. cases at that time.
Schuchat also noted the explosive effect of some late February mass gatherings, including a scientific meeting in Boston, the Mardis Gras celebration in New Orleans and a funeral in Albany, Georgia. The gatherings spawned many cases, and led to decisions in mid-March to restrict crowds.
“I think in retrospect, taking action earlier could have delayed further amplification (of the US outbreak), or delayed the speed of it.”
Yesterday, Beijing correspondent Lily Kuo published this piece on the “dining table revolution” in China, seeking to end, or at least change, the tradition of all-in communal meals, and reduce physical contact and shared utensils.
Today Zoe Williams looks at how European cuisine may also struggle to adjust.
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, promised “meaningful” adjustments to stay-at-home orders in the coming days as protesters gathered in the capital of Sacramento and in Orange county’s Huntington Beach, a recent flashpoint after Newsom ordered beaches there to close following a busy weekend.
In Sacramento, the state’s capital, a packed crowd of protesters faced off with lines of riot cops in a tense and chaotic protest on Friday afternoon.
“Traitors!” the protesters screamed at police, according to a livestream of the protest produced by reporters from the Sacramento Bee.
Some protesters held signs questioning whether the coronavirus is real or promoting anti-vaccine conspiracies, while others protested the closure of businesses during the pandemic, arguing that all jobs are essential. Almost none of the protesters were wearing masks, according to reporters and photographers at the scene.
Top U.S. health official Anthony Fauci will not testify next week to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said on Friday, calling it “counterproductive” to have individuals involved in the response testify.
The White House issued an emailed statement after a spokesman for the House of Representatives committee holding the hearing said the panel had been informed by Trump administration officials that Fauci had been blocked from testifying.
“While the Trump administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
“We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”
Fauci’s testimony was being sought for a 6 May hearing by a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health programs, said spokesman Evan Hollander. The Washington Post first reported that Fauci would not testify.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been one of the leading medical experts helping to guide the U.S. response to the highly contagious virus that has swept across the United States.
Hello and welcome to our continuing global coverage of the pandemic.
- Global number of infections passes 3.33m and at least 237,943 have died around the world since the pandemic began, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University.
- Top US health official Dr Anthony Fauci will be prevented from testifying to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic next week, the White House has said. The Trump administration claimed it would be “counterproductive” to have individuals involved in the response testify.
- Donald Trump is offering an increasingly bleak picture, telling a White House event: “Hopefully, we’re going to come in below that 100,000 lives lost, which is a horrible number, nevertheless.”
- In the US the drug remdesivir has been approved for emergency use to treat virus patients. The FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn clarifies that the drug has specifically been cleared for emergency use on those in hospital.
- Trump’s threats to reignite the US-China trade war in reaction to the pandemic trigger a sell-off in global financial markets, as the economic costs of the pandemic continue to mount. Against a backdrop of rising tension between the world’s two biggest economic superpowers, share prices resume a downward slide, with the FTSE 100 falling by 144 points, or 2.5%, in London.
- Restrictions on movement are to continue for several more weeks in Ireland, although over-70s may now leave their homes to exercise. The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, says most restrictions will remain until 18 May to “weaken the virus further so it doesn’t make a comeback”.
- The UK reports 739 more deaths, bringing the total death toll in the country to 27,510. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, says 177,454 people have tested positive: an increase of 6,201 since Thursday’s update. Of those, 15,111 patients are in hospital, Hancock says.
- India has extended its lockdown – the world’s broadest by population – for two more weeks, but with some easing of restrictions in areas with few cases. The home ministry says that in view of “significant gains in the Covid-19 situation”, there will be “considerable relaxations” in areas with few or no cases.
- In South Africa some industries are allowed to reopen after five weeks of restrictions in Africa’s most industrialised nation, which was already struggling with low growth and high debts when the lockdown began on 27 March.Its easing comes after the ratings agency S&P downgraded the country’s credit rating to junk on Wednesday.