Coronavirus latest: France extends emergency for two more months

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Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has extended India’s nationwide lockdown for another two weeks after May 4, but eased many restrictions. All public transport services — including airlines, trains, urban metros and interstate and inter-district bus services — will remain suspended across the country until May 18. However, in so-called “green zones” – districts which have had no new confirmed coronavirus cases in the last 21 days – local buses will be able to operate, though at only 50 percent capacity.

Japan is set to extend its state of emergency by another month when the current declaration expires on May 6th, prime minister Shinzo Abe signalled after a meeting of his expert advisers. Addressing reporters on Friday evening, Mr Abe said: Thanks to the great cooperation from the public, we have been able to escape the explosive increase in infections seen abroad under the current state of emergency, and our experts say it has worked to some extent.”

The White House has blocked Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and coronavirus task force member, from testifying before Congress, Democrats said on Friday. The Democratic-controlled House appropriations committee said a Trump administration official told the panel that the White House considered officials who are instrumental to the US response to the pandemic should not appear before Congress at this time.

The US recorded more than 59,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus, while testing accelerated to its highest daily rate since the outbreak began. About 34,580 additional confirmed cases of Covid-19 were confirmed over the past 24 hours, up from 27,944 a day earlier and bringing the total to more than 1.09m, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The US completed more than 320,000 new tests, the highest tally so far and an increase of more than 115,000 versus the previous day.

US president Donald Trump moved to block the use of foreign-made electrical components in America’s power grid through an executive order issued on Friday. The move comes as the White House and members of Congress have become increasingly concerned about the country’s reliance on international supply chains in a range of areas from medical gear and pharmaceuticals to food. The security of the US electrical network has long been a concern in Washington.

The US pharmaceuticals regulator has issued an emergency approval for Gilead’s potential Covid-19 treatment remdesivir, after positive results from a US-led trial were announced earlier this week. The Food and Drug Administration had issued an emergency-use authorisation for the antiviral drug, which the trial showed helped patients recover 31 per cent faster on average than without the drug. The FDA published guidance for patients taking remdesivir on its website.

Prime minister Leo Varadkar has extended Ireland’s lockdown by a fortnight until May 18, saying the battle against coronavirus is “not yet won”, but slightly easing restrictions that required people above 70 years old to stay indoors for more than a month. Mr Varadkar said the easing of the lockdown will proceed in five stages, three weeks apart, with the final phase beginning on August 10. Schools and colleges will not reopen until the new academic year in September or October.

A further 218 coronavirus deaths were reported in French hospitals and old people’s homes in the past 24 hours, the lowest level in more than five weeks, according to data released by the health ministry on Friday. Jérôme Salomon, director-general of health, said 15,369 Covid-19 patients had died in hospital and 9,225 in old people’s homes and other care homes since March 1, for a total death toll of 24,594. “Circulation of the virus remains at a high level,” Dr Salomon said.

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