Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro continues to defy social-distancing rules, joining a demonstration outside his office on Sunday and posing for selfies with supporters even as health ministry data shows the country’s outbreak deepening.
- Spain has reported a daily death toll below 100 for the first time in two months, while Italy’s was the lowest since the start of its lockdown.
Former President Barack Obama has criticised US leaders for the handling of the coronavirus response, telling college graduates in an online commencement address that the pandemic shows many officials “aren’t even pretending to be in charge”.
Globally, there have been more than 4.7 million known cases of COVID-19, and nearly 315,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Just over 1.7 million people have recovered.
Here are all the latest updates:
Monday, May 18
01:30 GMT – Leading economists in Australia back social distancing
A new survey shows Australian economists overwhelmingly support social distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The first Economic Society of Australia-Conversation poll asked 43 of the country’s leading economists whether they agreed, disagreed, strongly agreed or strongly disagreed with the proposition below:
- The benefits to Australian society of maintaining social distancing measures sufficient to keep R less than one for COVID-19 are likely to exceed the costs.
Almost three quarters backed the proposition, 23 of them “strongly”. Only nine disagreed.
R is the repoduction number for the virus and measures the average number of other people someone who already has coronavirus will infect. When R is below one, the outbreak will begin to peter out.
01:00 GMT – UN chief calls on Bangladesh to move Rohingya back to camps
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling on Bangladesh to move Rohingya refugees held on a flood-prone island after being rescued from ships stranded at sea to be returned to the main refugee camps.
Bangladesh says the 308 Rohingya were sent to Bhashan Char island because of coronavirus concerns.
“While those rescued at sea may be quarantined for public health purposes, they must also be extended the protection they deserve as refugees,” Guterres said in a letter to Bangladesh’s foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen that was obtained by AFP.
“I trust that they too will benefit from the humanitarian services offered to the Rohingya in Bangladesh and that, at the end of their quarantine period, they will be allowed to return to their families in Cox’s Bazar.”
Four cases of coronavirus have so far been detected in the camps.
00:00 GMT – Bolsonaro defies coronavirus advice with selfies
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro continues to defy advice on social distancing even as the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil worsens.
On Sunday he posed for selfies with at least three children picked out from a crowd of supporters who had congregated outside the presidential palace, Reuters news agency reported.
In an online video, Bolsonaro said he welcomed the demonstration.
“Above all (the people) want freedom, they want democracy, they want respect,” he said.
Health Ministry figures from Sunday night showed 7,938 new cases in Brazil bringing the total above 241,000. A further 485 people died, lifting the death toll to 16,118.
23:30 GMT (Sunday) – Hong Kong nationals arrive home after evacuation flight from India
A group of 249 Hong Kong residents stranded in India have arrived back home on a chartered flight.
The plane left New Delhi at about 11pm on May 17 local time (17:30 GMT), according to a Hong Kong government statement. The passengers include seven children under two years of age. They will all be required to undergo COVID-19 testing and spend 14 days in compulsory quarantine.
Read all the updates from yesterday (May 17) here.
Al Jazeera and news agencies