In a reversal from earlier statements, US President Donald Trump says the emergency taskforce handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak will not be wound down and will instead continue its work “indefinitely”.
China hits back at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims the new coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, saying he has no evidence.
- Brazil’s health minister says for the first time that lockdowns may be needed in the country as daily cases and deaths hit new highs.
Globally, more than 3.7 million people have been confirmed infected with the new coronavirus so far, and more than 260,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Thursday, May 7
00:39 GMT – All children’s activities back to normal in Iceland
Iceland is further easing coronavirus-related restrictions, allowing gatherings of up to 50 people and letting all children’s activities to return to normal.
“It is extremely important to remain vigilant and minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak. If we see any signs of a re-emerging of the virus, we will be prepared to implement appropriate measures to extinguish any localized infection clusters,” says Thorolfur Gudnason, chief epidemiologist.
01:29 GMT – Pandemic is pushing up price of illegal drugs, UN says
Coronavirus-related border controls, lockdowns and flight shortages are making illegal drugs more expensive and difficult to obtain around the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“Many countries across all regions have reported an overall shortage of numerous types of drugs at the retail level, as well as increases in prices, reductions in purity and that drug users have consequently been switching substance (for example, from heroin to synthetic opioids) and/or increasingly accessing drug treatment,” the UNODC says in a new report.
01:17 GMT – Amazon indigenous groups launch fund to fight coronavirus
Indigenous groups from nine countries in the Amazon basin are calling for donations to help protect 3 million rainforest inhabitants who are vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus because they lack adequate access to healthcare.
They say the failure of regional governments to consider the needs of indigenous people in their plans for curbing the pandemic makes it imperative to find other funding to buy food, medicine and basic protective equipment such as masks.
The Amazon Emergency Fund aims to raise $3m in the next two weeks and $5m over 60 days, say its organizers at the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin.
“We cannot wait any longer for our governments … We are in danger of extinction,” says Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, general coordinator of COICA and a member of the Wakuenai Kurripaco people of Venezuela.
Coronavirus has already infected 180 of the 600 indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin and killed 33 of their members in a single month, he says.
00:48 GMT – UK study finds higher risk of virus deaths for ethnic minorities
The risk of dying from coronavirus is “two to three times higher” for the UK’s black and minority ethnic communities, according to an academic analysis of health service data.
The study, by University College London (UCL), finds the average risk of death for people of Pakistani heritage is 3.29 times higher, for a black African background it is 3.24 times higher and 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshi.
Black Caribbean communities are 2.21 times more at risk, and Indian groups 1.7 times.
In contrast, the researchers find a lower fatality risk for white populations in England.
“Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with COVID-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups,” says UCL’s Dr Delan Devakumar, the study’s co-author.
“It is essential to tackle the underlying social and economic risk factors and barriers to healthcare that lead to these unjust deaths.”
00:24 GMT – El Salvador to suspend public transport for 15 days
El Salvador will temporarily suspend public transport from Thursday onwards in a bid to strengthen efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure will remain in place for 15 days, a government decree says.
El Salvador, which has reported 15 deaths from the pandemic, has applied some of the toughest measures in the Americas to tackle the coronavirus.
00:07 GMT – Brazil hits new daily record for novel coronavirus cases, deaths
Brazil, one of the world’s emerging coronavirus hot spots, is reporting a record number of cases and deaths with the health minister flagging the possibility of strict lockdowns in particularly hard-hit areas.
Official figures show 10,503 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, well above the previous record of 7,288 cases on April 30. There are 615 deaths, up from the previous record of 600 on Tuesday.
Health Minister Nelson Teich tells reporters for the first time that an increasing number of local authorities may have to institute “lockdowns,” as the coronavirus growth curve does not appear to be flattening. He is not naming any specific cities or states.
While authorities have ordered non-essential services and businesses closed in most states, residents are still allowed to circulate. A lockdown, which so far has only been implemented in the city of Sao Luis in the country’s northeast, prohibits people from leaving their homes except for certain necessary activities.
Still, Teich says, some areas of the country that had not borne the brunt of the pandemic may be able to consider gradually opening up.
Teich’s comments stand in stark contrast to comments over the past two months from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called the virus a “little flu” and criticised business shutdowns ordered by governors as more damaging to the country’s economy than the virus itself.
Teich took office last month as virus cases started surging in Brazil. He pledged to save lives and the economy and said at the time that he and Bolsonaro saw eye to eye.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
For key developments from yesterday, May 6, go here.