Chinese authorities say everyone who was being treated for coronavirus in hospital in Wuhan has now been sent home. In Australia, only a handful of new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded overnight.
This story is being updated regularly throughout Monday. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Monday’s top stories
Boris Johnson thanks Britons for abiding by lockdown after COVID-19 recovery
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is back at work after spending two weeks at Chequers, his country residence, where he was recovering from COVID-19.
As he returned to Downing Street on Monday, Mr Johnson thanked Britons for abiding by the lockdown, saying Britain was turning the tide against the coronavirus spread.
“Everyday, I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land and it is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war,” he said outside his Downing Street office.
The UK was coming “to the end of the first phase of this conflict”, he added.
“We must also recognise the risk of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate go back over one because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster,” he said.
The official number of deaths related to COVID-19 in hospitals across the United Kingdom has risen to 20,732, while the number of confirmed cases stands at 152,840.
Australia would be in a strong position to ease restrictions after a fortnight with no new cases
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer says Australians needed to re-think how they interact with others as restrictions ease.
Rates of infection in Australia have slowed in the past fortnight, resulting in some states electing to ease restrictions.
But Dr Brendan Murphy said social distancing should still be upheld until the virus is eliminated.
He said Australia was currently in a strong position when it came to tackling the virus, but more progress was needed before more serious restrictions were eased.
“If the current trend stays as we are now, with 20 or fewer cases a day and very few of them being those community traces with that epidemiology link, that would put us in a very strong position,” Dr Murphy said.
“A better position would be no cases in two weeks.”
COVIDSafe app downloaded more than 1 million times
The Federal Government’s COVIDSafe app has been downloaded by 1.13 million Australians since its release on Sunday evening.
The Government has said that 40 per cent of Australians — or 10 million people — will need to use it for it to be a success.
But digital rights advocates are concerned the source code hasn’t been made public, to allow the inner workings of the app to be scrutinised.
The Government has said it intends to make the code public, subject to the advice of cyber security agencies.
NZ lockdown easing but Ardern wants people to remain in ‘bubble’
New Zealanders will be able to go fishing, surfing, hunting and hiking this week for the first time in more than a month as the country begins to ease its way out of a strict lockdown.
Around 400,000 people will return to work after the country shifts its alert level down a notch at midnight on Monday, but shops and restaurants will remain closed as several social restrictions remain in place.
New Zealand’s 5 million residents were subjected to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in response to the pandemic, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closing offices, schools, bars and restaurants, including take away and delivery services, on March 26.
Beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds were also shut, effectively restricting people to their homes and short walks around their neighbourhood.
Ms Ardern stressed that public gatherings remain banned and asked people to remain in their “bubble”.
WA, Queensland ease social restrictions
The launch of a national contact-tracing app comes as Western Australia and Queensland have announced an easing of restrictions.
From today, West Australians can gather in groups of up to 10 people, as the two-person rule on indoor and outdoor gatherings is relaxed.
Premier Mark McGowan said the move was designed to provide relief, but people needed to continue to do the right thing.
“Don’t have wild parties, don’t do stupid things that mean we have to clamp down again,” he warned.
The same advice is being offered to people in the sunshine state by Chief Medical Officer Dr Jeannette Young.
From midnight on Friday, social-distancing measures will be eased in Queensland, allowing people to do things like shop for clothing and have a picnic with members of their household.
Under the relaxation, Queenslanders will also be able to go for a drive and travel up to 50 kilometres from home.
Dr Young said if people didn’t abuse the relaxing of the rules, more restrictions could be lifted in the coming weeks.
Large fines for trying to infect frontline workers in Queensland
People who deliberately spit, sneeze or cough on frontline workers will be fined up to $13,000, the Queensland Government has announced.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said fines of up to $1,300 could be issued on the spot, while matters that went to court could lead to a $13,000 fine.
Ms Palaszczuk said it was “disgusting” some people had been taking their frustrations out on essential workers.
Health Minister Steven Miles said there had been cases of hospital staff, paramedics, retail staff and nurses being threatened with being coughed on.
“They should certainly never be threatened with being deliberately infected with COVID-19,” he said.
“During a pandemic, a cough can be used as a weapon. A sneeze can be as dangerous as a knife. Spitting is of course always disgusting.”
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak
Low number of new coronavirus cases in Australia
In the past 24 hours there has been only a handful of new coronavirus cases reported in Australia.
Though new case numbers are generally lower over weekends, the rate of testing in most states and territories has recently increased, providing some hope that numbers are improving dramatically.
Health authorities in New South Wales confirmed two new coronavirus infections overnight, taking the state’s total number of cases to 3,004.
It is the lowest number of new cases recorded in NSW since early in March.
Victoria recorded one new confirmed case of the virus overnight, with the state’s total number of cases now at 1,349.
In Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed three new coronavirus cases had been recorded.
There were no new cases in the ACT overnight, leaving just three known active cases in the territory — the lowest number of any Australian jurisdiction.
Western Australia also has not had any new cases in the past 24 hours; there are only 55 people who remain infected in the state, with four in intensive care.
Case numbers from other states will be released later today.
No COVID-19 patients in hospital in Wuhan
No coronavirus patients remain in hospital in Wuhan, China, where the virus first emerged.
China’s National Health Commission said all COVID-19 patients in the city had been discharged.
However, the risk of imported cases remains high and cluster outbreaks have been reported in some places such as north-east China’s Heilongjiang Province.
Since the outbreak in Wuhan, coronavirus has spread around the world, infecting 2.9 million and killing more than 203,000 people.
The news comes as schools across China begin to reopen. Only teachers and students who return a negative test result and do not have symptoms are allowed to enter the schools.
China asked for positive commentary, Germany says
Chinese diplomats approached German Government officials in an attempt to encourage them to make positive statements on how Beijing is handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to the German interior ministry.
“The German Government is aware of individual contacts made by Chinese diplomats with the aim of affecting positive public statements on the coronavirus management by the People’s Republic of China,” the ministry said in a letter seen by Reuters.
“The Federal Government has not complied with these requests.”
The letter was dated April 22 and was sent to Green Party MP Margarete Bause in response to her question on whether Chinese diplomats had contacted German officials with the goal of encouraging them to make positive remarks.
Your questions on coronavirus answered:
The comments by the interior ministry were first reported by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. The paper cited the Chinese embassy in Berlin as rejecting the report as untrue and irresponsible.
The embassy could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday and the Chinese foreign ministry did also not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
China has been under scrutiny for its response to the virus.
Italy plans to ease coronavirus lockdown
Italy has registered its lowest daily death toll since the first week of lockdown in mid-March.
Overall, the country has had more than 26,500 COVID-19 deaths.
The new measures to ease restrictions include allowing restaurants and bars to serve takeaway food.
Some sporting activities will be able to resume, but not with spectators.
Mr Conte said social distancing would remain in force for months, but the country had to get back on its feet.
“In the coming weeks, in the coming months, we must lay the foundations for the reopening of the country,” he said.
“We need an intense program of reforms. This must be an opportunity to radically change all those things that have not been working in our country for a long time.”
Pitt’s Dr Fauci pokes fun at Trump on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live – SNL: And now, a message from Dr. Anthony Fauci. #SNLAtHome
Oscar-winning actor Brad Pitt has made an appearance on Saturday Night Live, playing the role of Anthony Fauci, America’s top public health adviser, to fact-check US President Donald Trump’s claims about coronavirus.
“Tonight I would like to try to explain what the President was trying to say,” Pitt, dressed in a wig and glasses, said. “Miracles shouldn’t be Plan A.”
After a clip in which Mr Trump appeared to float the question of injecting disinfectant or hitting the virus with a “very powerful light”, the video cut to Pitt as Dr Fauci with his head in his hands.
“I know I shouldn’t be touching my face, but … ” he says.
Dr Fauci has won widespread praise for his public messaging as COVID-19 spreads across the US, infecting more than 939,000 to date.
Mr Trump recently retweeted a post calling for Dr Fauci to be sacked, but later said he did not intend to fire him.
Pitt poked fun at that too, before finishing the show’s opening segment by thanking Dr Fauci for the messaging he has been delivering to Americans.
‘As bad as anything we’ve seen before’
White House advisers hope to come up with several options to present to US President Donald Trump for “big thoughtful policies” to help rebuild confidence in an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Trump economic adviser.
Nationwide lockdowns to curtail the spread of the virus have impacted the US economy, closing businesses and causing rising unemployment, with a record 26.5 million Americans filing for jobless benefits since mid-March.
“We’re going to need really big thoughtful policies to put together to make it so that people are optimistic again,” White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told reporters, warning the US jobless rate would likely hit 16 per cent or higher this month.
Mr Hassett said it was possible the economy could quickly rebound when it reopened, but warned things were likely to get worse before they got better.
“I think the next couple of months are going to look terrible,” Mr Hassett said.
“You’re going to see numbers as bad as anything we’ve ever seen before.”
Chile to push ahead with coronavirus ‘release certificates’
Chile will go ahead with a controversial plan to issue certificates that will allow people who recover from COVID-19 to return to work.
The World Health Organization has warned there is no evidence that recovering from coronavirus gives people immunity from catching it again.
But an official from Chile’s health ministry said while many uncertainties about the virus remained, evidence pointed to a reduced risk after a first bout.
“One of the things we know is that a person who has lived through the disease is less likely to become ill again,” sub-secretary of Chile’s Health Ministry Paula Daza said.
Police die from COVID-19 while enforcing lockdown in Peru
Seventeen police officers who had been involved in enforcing Peru’s coronavirus lockdown have died of COVID-19.
Peru’s former Interior Minister Carlos Moran was sacked on Friday, after being criticised for failing to provide officers with masks and medical care.
His replacement Gastón Rodríguez said there was no excuse for personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitiser not reaching police personnel.
More than 1,000 officers in the country have contracted coronavirus. There are more than 25,000 confirmed cases in Peru and 700 deaths.
El Salvador authorises ‘lethal force’ in crackdown on heightened violence
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has authorised the use of “lethal force” by police and the military against gang members who, he said, were taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Central American country reported 24 homicides on Friday, the worst one-day toll since Mr Bukele took office in June.
By Sunday afternoon, police had registered another 29 murders, prompting the president to introduce tougher measures against gangs.
Mr Bukele said criminals were choosing to strike while security forces were busy trying to contain COVID-19.
“The police and armed forces must prioritise safeguarding their lives, those of their companions and of honest citizens,” Mr Bukele said.
“The use of lethal force is authorised in self-defence or in defence of the lives of Salvadorans.”
Chechnya goes bald in lockdown
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has urged people in the south-east Russian region to shave their heads while hairdressers are closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.
“All our beauty salons are closed so, like our ancestors did, I decided to shave my head,” he said on Instagram, according to Agence France-Presse, encouraging others to do the same.
Top officials and members of emergency services then followed suit, uploading photos of themselves with freshly-shaven heads.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia have surpassed 80,000, with 747 deaths recorded.
Spain’s children play outside for first time in six weeks
Children in Spain have gone outside for the first time since March 14, after living under one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns.
The relaxed restrictions came as Spain — one of the countries worse hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic — registered its lowest daily coronavirus death toll in more than a month.
It was the first step in the Spanish Government’s plans to gradually ease restrictions.
Children under 14 will be allowed one hour of supervised outdoor activity per day between 9:00am and 9:00pm, staying within 1 kilometre of their home.
Adults can accompany up to three children, who will not be allowed to use playparks or share toys, and must adhere to social-distancing guidelines, remaining at least 2 metres from other people.
Schools remain closed.
What you need to know about coronavirus: