Wuhan, the Chinese city planning to test all of its 11 million residents, has assessed more than three million people since April and will focus its testing efforts on the remaining residents.
Germany’s coronavirus-hit economy contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter, its steepest three-month slump since the 2009 financial crisis.
Officials confirmed the first coronavirus infection of a Rohingya refugee in the sprawling camps in southern Bangladesh.
Globally, more than 4.4 million people have been infected and more than 301,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 1.6 million people have recovered.
Here are all the latest updates:
Portugal’s economy contracted 3.9 percent in the first quarter from the preceding three-month period as the coronavirus epidemic and subsequent restrictions on movement started taking their toll mainly in March, official data showed.
The National Statistics Institute also said in its flash estimate that the country’s gross domestic product shrank 2.4 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, the economy grew 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter and 2.2 percent year-on-year.
Malaysia has reported 36 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with no additional deaths, the health ministry said.
The country has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Malaysia has recorded a total of 6,855 infections with 112 fatalities [EPA]
The German economy contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter, its steepest three-month slump since the 2009 financial crisis as shops and factories were shut in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, preliminary data showed.
On the year, gross domestic product in Europe’s largest economy fell by 2.3 percent from January to March after a 0.4 percent expansion in the previous three months, seasonally adjusted figures from the Federal Statistics Office showed.
Analysts polled by the Reuters agency had expected national output to shrink by 2.2 percent quarter-on-quarter and two 2 percent contraction year-on-year in seasonally adjusted terms.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines’ has passed the 12,000 mark, and more than 800 people have now died, the health ministry said.
In a bulletin, the ministry reported 16 more coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 806. It recorded 215 additional infections, increasing the total tally to 12,091. But 123 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 2,460.
Russia reported 10,598 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case tally to 262,843.
Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said 113 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll from the virus to 2,418.
Russia’s coronavirus taskforce says 113 people died in the country over the last 24 hours [Anadolu]
The risk of a COVID-19 resurgence in China from so-called imported infections is controllable, an official of the National Health Commission (NHC) said.
China reported four new coronavirus cases on the mainland on May 14, all of them locally transmitted. China has banned most foreigners from entering its borders since late March as the pandemic spread globally.
NHC Vice Minister Zeng Yixin also told reporters during a briefing that some COVID-19 vaccines are set to complete their second-phase clinical trials in July.
The Nana Otafrija service group, known as Ghana’s dancing pallbearers, provides funeral services featuring men dressed in black and white suits and sunglasses.
They get down to festive beats while carrying a coffin on their shoulders in funeral ceremonies.
The pallbearers have been enjoying international fame in pandemic times, urging people to stay home and exercise social distancing.
They say: “Now remember, stay at home or dance with us.”
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 15, 2020
Britain has given the green light to Abbott Laboratories to produce a COVID-19 antibody test, shortly after it gave the same approval to Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding, health officials said.
Mass antibody testing with millions of kits is being considered by many countries as a way to speed the reopening of economies devastated by lockdowns and to introduce more tailored social distancing measures.
Thailand reported seven new coronavirus cases, while the number of deaths remained unchanged at 56.
The new cases were all patients who arrived from Pakistan last week and have been in state quarantine, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January and earlier in the week reported zero new daily cases for the first time in two months.
Thailand has confirmed a total of 3,025 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started in January [Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP]
Hello, I’m Umut Uras in Doha, Qatar, taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
I’m handing over to my colleague, Umut Uras, in Doha, Qatar now. Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:
– Slovenia called an end to its COVID-19 outbreak, becoming the first country to do so.
– Cafes and pubs are reopening in parts of Australia
– Brazil cases hit a daily record even as President Jair Bolsonaro lobbied business leaders to pressure the governor of Sao Paolo to lift lockdown measures.
China’s factory output rose for the first time this year as the world’s second-largest economy slowly emerged from its coronavirus lockdowns.
Industrial production climbed 3.9 percent in April from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, faster than the 1.5 percent increase forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts and following a 1.1 percent fall in March.
But China continues to face significant challenges in its services sector, particularly in retail. Of particular concern for policymakers ahead of next week’s annual meeting of Parliament is the prospect of a spike in unemployment, which poses serious political risks for the nation of 1.4 billion.
“Overall, this set of data shows only small and gradual improvements in economic activity, which could upset markets as China is seen as the ‘first out’ economy from COVID-19,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING.
A World Health Organizations (WHO) modelling study has indicated the coronavirus could kill 150,000 people in Africa and infect 231 million people in a year unless urgent action is taken.
Authors of the research said even though many African nations have been swift to adopt containment measures, health systems could still quickly become overwhelmed.
That would divert already limited resources to tackle major health issues in the region, such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and malnutrition, worsening the effects of coronavirus.
“The region will have fewer deaths, but occurring more in relatively younger age groups, amongst people previously considered healthy – due to undiagnosed non-communicable diseases,” the report said, adding that these trends are already emerging.
Transmission is estimated to be greatest in smaller nations, with Mauritius found to have the highest risk of exposure. Of the continent’s larger countries, South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria were also in the top 10 for exposure risk.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has reported 29 new cases, 17 of which are linked to bars and clubs in Seoul’s nightlife district of Itaewon.
The latest figures brought the total number of cases in the Itaewon cluster to 148.
The Yonhap news agency said health authorities will disinfect nightclubs and bars this weekend, “in an effort to prevent the Itaewon infection cluster from expanding into a mass outbreak.”
Wuhan, the original epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak, has tested more than three million residents for the pathogen since April and will now focus its testing efforts on the rest of its 11 million population, according to state media.
The priority will be residents who have not been tested before, people living in residential compounds that had previous cases of the virus, as well as old or densely populated estates, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a Wuhan government meeting.
Authorities in Wuhan plan to conduct tests on everyone in the city after detecting a cluster of infections over the weekend – the first since the city’s lockdown was lifted on April 8.
A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on May 14, 2020. [STR/ AFP]
A UK charity is urging authorities in Bangladesh to lift internet restrictions in camps housing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees after the first cases of the coronavirus were detected there on Thursday.
“We urge Bangladesh and the international community to do everything they can to ensure that all necessary aid reaches those who need it,” said Tun Khin, president of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).
“This must also be a wake-up call to the Bangladeshi authorities to lift internet restrictions in the camps. The current blackout is not just preventing aid groups from doing their jobs, but also blocking refugees from accessing life-saving information.”
Health officials in Costa Rica said 23 truck drivers entering the country from Nicaragua have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week.
All of them were asymptomatic. Two others who showed symptoms were turned away without tests.
The results are another sign that the spread of the virus in Nicaragua could be greater than its government has acknowledged. The country has reported only 25 confirmed cases and eight deaths, and its government has not imposed social distancing measures and continues to promote mass gatherings.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned doctors about a serious rare inflammatory condition in children linked to the coronavirus.
The CDC’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celcius) for at least 24 hours, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, or lungs.
The agency called the condition multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.
The global charity World Vision says four million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, with deepening poverty likely to drive many families to marry off their daughters early.
The risks are further exacerbated by the fact that schools have been closed and organisations working to combat child marriage have been finding it harder to operate during lockdowns.
“When you have any crisis like a conflict, disaster or pandemic rates of child marriage go up,” Erica Hall, World Vision’s child marriage expert, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If we don’t start thinking about how to prevent it now it will be too late. We can’t wait for the health crisis to pass first.”
Pupils observing social distance rules listen to their teacher at the Saint Germain de Charonne school in Paris on May 14, 2020, as primary schools in France reopen this week [Franck Fife/ AFP]
US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club will partially reopen to members this weekend as South Florida slowly reopens from the coronavirus lockdown.
An email sent on Thursday to members said the Palm Beach resort’s Beach Club restaurant, its pool and its whirlpool will reopen on Saturday after being closed for two months, but its main building that includes hotel rooms, the main dining area and the president’s private residence will remain closed.
Members will have to practice social distancing and lounge chairs will be set two metres (six feet) apart. They will have to bring their own towels.
China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from the coronavirus.
The National Health Commission reported four new cases of the virus on Friday, all local cross-infections in the northeast province of Jilin where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days. The last time the commission reported any deaths was on April 14.
In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.
Brazil has registered a daily record of 13,944 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday as President Jair Bolsonaro urged business leaders to push for lifting lockdown orders in the country’s financial centre, Sao Paulo.
Health ministry data showed a total of 202,918 confirmed cases and 13,933 deaths in Brazil, the hardest-hit country in Latin America, at the end of Thursday.
But Bolsonaro, who opposes the lockdowns, told a virtual gathering of business leaders to “play tough” with Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who has issued social distancing orders and said he will not comply with Bolsonaro’s latest decree to reopen gyms and beauty salons.
“One man is deciding the future of Sao Paulo,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Doria. “He is deciding the future of Brazil’s economy. With all due respect, you have to call the governor and play tough – play tough – because it’s a serious issue, it is war. Brazil is at stake.”
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state and home to a third of its economic output, has seen hospitals pushed to the limit as it records the worst outbreak in the country.
The Slovenian government is calling an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so after authorities confirmed less than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.
People now arriving in Slovenia from other European Union states will no longer be obliged to go into quarantine for at least seven days as was the case from early April, the government has said in a statement. But a 14-day quarantine remains in place for people coming in from non-EU states.
Citizens will still have to follow basic rules to prevent a possible spread of infection, the government has said, without elaborating. People have been required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, stand at least 1.5 metres (five feet) apart and disinfect hands upon entering public spaces.
The country of two million people has so far reported 1,464 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths.
New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, is reopening restaurants, cafes and bars after a two-month shutdown, under the condition they limit customers to 10 at any one time.
Gladys Berejiklian, premier of NSW, has cautioned people to remain vigilant and maintain social distancing.
“Easing restrictions has failed in so many places around the world and I don’t want that to happen in NSW, I want people to have personal responsibility for the way we respond,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
In the Northern Territory, pubs are opening with no restrictions on patron numbers and there are no limits on public gatherings or house visits.
Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, is currently retaining most of its lockdown measures.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
You can find all the updates from yesterday (May 14) here.
Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, by Fang Fang
Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, by Fang Fang
In her now-world-famous writing, Chinese author Fang Fang implores: “The departed are gone, but the living must go on. As before. I just hope we can remember.”
The writer’s detailed account of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, originally published in Chinese as a daily diary as the virus rapidly spread there, becomes available in English on Friday as Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City. Bits and clips of Fang Fang’s writing on the situation in Wuhan made it out of China and into English as the outbreak was unfolding, but now the full account will be available in English.
Memory is central to Fang Fang’s diary. So is making sense of the complete absence of things: of life as we knew it; of any and all economic activity. Like tens of millions of other readers, I read Fang Fang in the monotony of self-isolation, looking for a common understanding of how the pandemic had changed the country we were living in — China.
Before the novel coronavirus engulfed the Chinese city of Wuhan, Fang Fang was already an award-winning novelist of realist fiction. But her chronicle of the lockdown of her hometown Wuhan might be her most lasting work.
Fang Fang penned her first entry on January 25, two days after the city was suddenly sealed off from the rest of China, to let friends and anyone curious understand “what is really going on here on the ground in Wuhan.” Over the next 59 entries spanning more than two months, her writing veers from a collection of the quotidian aspects of life under lockdown to her mounting frustration with local officials — no small gesture of bravery in China.
Out of necessity, her diary supersedes any kind of traditional literary work, in both content and form.
By early February, China’s Internet censors were working overtime, during the height of the epidemic, to erase critical content. Fang Fang’s diary thus often serves as an archive, describing videos and news items usually deleted by the time she managed to publish her daily entry. As her online diary begins to attract millions of readers, she begins incorporating information gleaned from text messages and phone calls from well-connected friends in the arts and medical fields, forming a kind of written collage of Wuhan.
Eventually, the censors came for Fang Fang. Loyal readers took screenshots of her entries before they were deleted, or helped repost entires on various other social media channels.
Unfortunately, the English translation of her diary in book form is not able to capture this multidimensionality. Wuhan Diary loses much of its engaging, real-time nature by condensing her 60 entries into a single tome. Nonetheless, it is a heroic feat of speedy translation from veteran Michael Berry.
“You have that whole connecting universe extending from her diary entries…of course, reading it now, after the fact, is a very different experience,” Berry, who is also translating Fang Fang’s last novel, Soft Burial, told NPR. Still, readers in the U.S. will likely find many of her gripes about local officials and the burden of social distancing all too relevant.
Fang Fang’s Wuhan diary remains significant as a document of the trivial, tragic and absurd during Wuhan’s 76 days of lockdown. Such a document is especially important now, when so much of how the coronavirus spread — and what governments across the world did or did not do to contain it — is already being contested by the U.S. and China.
“Imagine this: the author Fang Fang did not exist in today’s Wuhan…What would we have heard? What would we have seen?” asked writer Yan Lianke in a widely-shared online talk in late February. Memory, Yan goes on to say, is the most basic hedge against future injustice: “While memories may not give us the power to change reality, it can at least raise a question in our hearts when a lie comes our way.”
Fang Fang’s diary, then, is an important record how Wuhan’s people suffered and ultimately persevered, even as the state wants to erase its initial fumbles from the official record.
Raising questions does not make one popular in China these days. Nearly immediately after she began publishing her entries, an online army of ultra-nationalists deluged Fang Fang, indignant that in airing doubts about the superiority of China’s coronavirus containment she was betraying her motherland. That her diary could be published in English only months after the Wuhan lockdown was lifted, they hinted darkly, meant Fang Fang was deliberately aiding Western countries to smear China and to profit off the suffering of Wuhan. Berry says even he has received thousands of angry emails and death threats for simply translating her writing.
One anonymous letter, allegedly written by a high school student, lambasted Fang Fang for airing China’s dirty laundry out for everyone to see. “My child, I also want to tell you that when I was 16 years old, I was much worse off than you are. At that time, I had never even heard of words like ‘independent thought,'” Fang Fang gently wrote back.
China today is more globalized and more confident than ever. It has also become more hostile to foreign ideas, suspicious they are Western designs to stop China’s rise, and has demonstrated its willingness to engage in bare-knuckles diplomacy.
Voices like Fang Fang’s — who remember well the brutal decade of the Cultural Revolution, when adolescent Maoists tortured, persecuted and beat to death the politically incorrect, as well as the subsequent prosperity of economic reform and opening— are increasingly rare in China. But in the context of larger conversations being had about China and its place in the world, American readers would do well to remember they exist.
Emily Feng is NPR’s Beijing correspondent.