More than 2 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 136,667 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
As Covid-19 spreads around the world, it can be daunting keeping up with the information. For RNZ, our responsibility is to give you verified, up to the minute, trustworthy information to help you make decisions about your lives and your health. We'll also be asking questions of officials and decision makers about how they're responding to the virus. Our aim is to keep you informed.
Here are the countries with the most Covid-19 deaths and infections (respectively), according to the Reuters tally.
- United States 30,885 636,604
- Spain 18,579 177,633
- Italy 21,645 165,155
- France 17,167 132,886
- Germany 3,804 131,009
- United Kingdom 12,868 98,476
- Mainland China 3,342 82,341
- Iran 4,777 76,389
- Turkey 1,518 69,392
Masks may be 'new normal' in post-virus life in US
The death toll from Covid-19 in the United States approached 31,000 as governors began cautiously preparing Americans for a post-virus life that would likely include public face coverings as the "new normal."
The governors of Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania each issued orders or recommendations that residents wear face masks as they emerge from isolation in the coming weeks.
Similar orders were imposed in New Jersey and Los Angeles last week and face coverings were recommended by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on Tuesday.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has said residents across the nation's most-populous state would likely be wearing masks in public for some time to come.
"We are going to be getting back to normal; it will be a new normal," Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said, echoing a phrase used by at least two of his fellow governors in recent days.
UK's outbreak starting to peak - Health Minister
Britain's Health Minister Matt Hancock said outbreak was starting to peak but it was too early to lift the lockdown because the virus would "run rampant" if the government eased social distancing measures.
"We think it is too early to make a change," Hancock said. "While we've seen a flattening of the number of cases, and thankfully a flattening of the number of deaths, that hasn't started to come down yet."
The United Kingdom's hospital death toll from Covid-19 rose by 761 to 12,868 as of 1600 on 14 April (local time), the health ministry said, though broader statistics suggest the total toll is much larger.
"If we just released all the measures now then this virus would run rampant once again and we can't let that happen," Hancock said.
The World Health Organization said countries that ease restrictions should wait at least two weeks to evaluate the impact, as some European countries including Spain and Austria have begun small-scale steps to reduce severe lockdowns.
A 106-year-old great-grandmother, thought to be the oldest patient in Britain to beat the novel coronavirus, was discharged from hospital to applause from nurses and health workers.
A professor who has helped shape the UK government's response to the pandemic said Britain would probably have to maintain some level of social distancing until a vaccine was available.
"We will have to maintain some level of social distancing, a significant level of social distancing, probably indefinitely until we have a vaccine available," Neil Ferguson told BBC radio.
In some heartwarming news, a 99-year-old British war veteran has raised more than 12 million pounds ($25m) while walking his garden for the health service.
Retired army captain Tom Moore, who has used a rollator to move around since breaking his hip, has set himself the target of walking the 25 metres around his garden 100 times before his 100th birthday on April 30.
A video posted by his family showed Moore walking around his garden.
"I have had such marvellous service from the health service," Moore said earlier this month, in a suit and tie with his war medals displayed. "They have done so well for me and they are doing so well for everybody."
@captaintommoore has just raised nine million pounds. Tomorrow he will complete his 100th garden length live on #BBCBreakfast. Is it possible his original target of £1k could reach £10 million pounds?— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) April 15, 2020
This is Tom's Story ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/5qNW8GvjsD
Australia to detect coronavirus spread by testing raw sewage
Australian researchers say they expect to roll out wide testing of raw sewage for the presence of coronavirus within weeks to help pinpoint communities at risk, after a successful regional pilot.
The trial in Queensland by national science agency CSIRO and the University of Queensland will be used to develop a surveillance system researchers said will help officials when they start to wind back restrictions on public movement.
In the Queensland trial, scientists were able to detect a gene fragment of the novel coronavirus in untreated sewage from two wastewater treatment plants.
Used on a wider scale, sewage sampling would be able to detect the approximate number of people infected in a geographic area without testing every individual, the CSIRO said.
Strict measures have helped slow growth in the daily rate of new infections drastically to low single digits, from about 25 percent several weeks ago, for a total of about 6500 infections, including 63 deaths.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said restrictions would stay in place for at least another month, although officials have begun talking about how to start a wind-back.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said a wider detection regime including sewage sampling would help show whether there were Covid-19 cases in the broader community.
Japan's Prime Minister to expand state of emergency - Yomiuri report
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to expand the state of emergency that has been declared for seven of Japan's 47 prefectures so far to the rest of the nation, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.
Abe declared the state of emergency for the seven prefectures on 7 April, to last through 6 May. The nationwide emergency would last for the same duration, the Yomiuri said.
However, Abe's wife came under fire on social media over a report she visited a shrine last month with about 50 people, adding to public disapproval of how the premier has handled the coronavirus crisis.
The prime minister's support has been hurt by what critics say is a timid and sluggish response to the outbreak, and by widespread criticism that he has appeared tone deaf to the severity of the crisis in his own social media posts.
Abe's wife, Akie, became a trending topic on Japanese Twitter, with her name gaining more than 17,000 retweets by mid-morning after a weekly magazine said she had visited a shrine in southwest Japan on 15 March.
That was about two weeks after her husband asked schools to close and organisers to scrap or curtail events, but before he declared a state of emergency.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Abe's parliamentary office was not immediately available for comment. Reuters was not able to reach representatives for Akie Abe for comment.
Yemen's war-scarred hospitals gear up to combat coronavirus threat
The coronavirus epidemic has yet to make clear inroads in Yemen, with the little testing that has been done uncovering just one confirmed case.
But aid groups fear that could be a harbinger of a catastrophic outbreak among an acutely malnourished population.
"Even now, before corona arrives ... you would fail to find a ventilator," said Abdulaziz Qassem, part of the coronavirus team at the city's Joumhuriya hospital. "We doctors don't have any protective clothing and we will be the first line of defence."
Yemen's third largest city has just four ventilators to treat victims of the respiratory disease, and Joumhuriya's deputy director Khalil al-Saeed said its makeshift coronavirus wing has no beds and no functioning bathrooms.
It is one of 37 Yemeni hospitals that the World Health Organization (WHO) and local authorities are rushing to upgrade, in response to a war that has destroyed health, water and sanitation systems and left millions weakened by poverty and disease.
"We will all struggle to provide adequate levels of supportive care to people should the disease take off," the WHO's emergencies expert Mike Ryan said on Monday.
India charges Muslim leader with culpable homicide after coronavirus surge
India has brought charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the chief of a Muslim seminary for holding a gathering last month that authorities say led to a big jump in coronavirus infections, police said.
Thousands of the Tablighi Jamaat group followers, including some from Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, were taken into quarantine after it emerged they had attended meetings in mid-March.
Police initially filed a case against Muhammad Saad Kandhalvi, the chief of the centre, for violating a ban on big gatherings but had now invoked the law against culpable homicide, a police spokesman said.
It carries a maximum punishment of a 10-year prison term.
A spokesman for the Tablighi Jamaat group, Mujeeb-ur Rehman, declined to comment saying they had not confirmed reports about the new charges.
Authorities said at the beginning of the month that a third of the nearly 3000 coronavirus cases at that time were either people who attended the Tablighi gathering or those who were later exposed to them.
India's tally of coronavirus infections has since jumped to 12,380, including 414 deaths, as of Thursday.
In the coronavirus hot spot of Delhi, 1080 of its 1561 cases were linked to the group's gathering, according to the city government data on Wednesday.
The Tablighi was also linked to a surge of cases in neighbouring Pakistan where it cancelled a similar gathering, but only at the last minute when thousands had already arrived at a premises in the city of Lahore.
A gathering organised by the group in Malaysia also led to a surge of cases there and in several other Southeast Asian countries.
Pakistan has recorded 6505 cases according to its latest data, a jump of 520 over the previous day. About 60 percent of Pakistan's cases load was linked to the Tablighi or were people who had gone on religious pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia and Iran, officials said.
Figures on the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia:
- India has 12,380 confirmed cases, including 414 deaths
- Pakistan has 5988 cases, including 107 deaths
- Bangladesh has 803 cases, including 39 deaths
- Afghanistan has 784 cases, including 29 deaths
- Sri Lanka has 238 cases, including 7 deaths
- Maldives has 21 cases and no deaths
- Nepal has 16 cases and no deaths
- Bhutan has five cases and no deaths