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BBC News, Taiwan
It’s been six months since the outbreak emerged in mainland China, just a short distance away, but we haven’t had any lockdown. People living in Taiwan, including myself, are feeling very fortunate.
As the Taiwanese watch the sharp rise in cases and deaths in other countries, they are quietly proud of going through one month – 31 straight days as of Wednesday – without any new domestically-transmitted cases, and six consecutive days of no new imported cases either.
With a total of 440 cases and only 7 deaths, Taiwan is doing much better than most countries.
Children are going to school and adults to work as normal, the streets are buzzing, and shops and restaurants have remained open.
Even Taiwan’s favourite pastime, baseball, can be enjoyed inside stadiums again – although only 1,000 fans are allowed at the moment.
But that doesn’t mean Taiwanese people are letting down their guard.
They know what has helped Taiwan is being vigilant – including early border controls, a ban on foreign visitors, mandatory quarantine for all overseas returnees, proactive detection at airports and hospitals, efficient contact tracing, and strict enforcement of hospital isolation and home quarantine.
All of these measures are expected to stay until the pandemic is brought under control worldwide.
So most Taiwanese gladly have our temperature checked – sometimes several times a day – voluntarily disinfect our hands, and follow the orders to wear a face mask on public transport.
In fact, some Taiwanese are shocked to see images on TV of people in the UK, or other countries, coming out of lockdown but not wearing masks on the subway trains.
There’s concern the coronavirus is leading to a rare inflammatory disease in children.
A number of children in the US, UK and the rest of Europe have been diagnosed with the disease – which can cause symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome.
Some have needed intensive care while others recovered quickly.
Germany has recorded 933 new infections, taking the official total to 172,239. The death toll rose by 89 to 7,723.
The graph below shows the number of deaths in Germany since the beginning of March, showing the country on a clear downward trend. Lockdown measures began to be eased slowly on 20 April.
From the start of the outbreak, the country was less severely affected than its western European neighbours. But as more restrictions are lifted, there’s concern the numbers might pick up again.
When some Indian cities eased the grinding lockdown last week, long queues were seen outside liquor shops.
In cities like Mumbai, a Covid-19 hotspot, booze-loving people made a mockery of social distancing rules, prompting the government to shut the shops again.
There was even social media chatter over a 52,000 rupees ($690; £560) receipt from a single alcohol buyer in Bangalore.
The manic rush was not surprising: the harsh lockdown meant there was a pent-up demand for booze.
And behind India’s growing alcohol consumption, there is a darker reality.
A few weeks ago we reported on airline Virgin Australia’s collapse into voluntary administration.
As this is Australia’s second-largest airline (and main competitor to Qantas), various groups were calling for the Australian government to prop it up, or even nationalise it.
The government refused – saying it should be left to the market.
Over a dozen corporate buyers were reported to be interested in the airline – and now the Queensland state government says it wants to bid for a stake.
Virgin has its headquarters there, and there are 5,000 jobs at risk.
“If we’re going to secure those jobs and secure a second airline for our state and nation, we’ve got to be in that fight,” said state treasurer Cameron Dick.
Research has already suggested that anxiety and depressive symptoms rose after “lockdown” measures were introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.
And now, the UN has warned the pandemic is causing widespread psychological distress.
Earlier this month, the BBC spoke to Siobhan O’Neill, a professor of mental health sciences, about how to look after yourself during the lockdown.
Six migrant workers have died after a bus ran them over in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, police told local media.
Their journey would have been around 1,000km, or 621 miles.
Millions in India were left stranded when the lockdown was announced in March. With industries shut, and bus and train services halted overnight, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers feared they would starve and attempted to walk back home.
Earlier this month, the government announced special trains for migrant workers, but reports of labourers walking home continue to emerge.
And just last week, officials ordered an investigation after 16 migrant workers were run over by a freight train in Maharashtra state.
As lockdowns continue around the world, what does a day in the life of a teenager look like now?
We asked young people in 14 different countries to record their day – from when they woke up to the moment they went to bed – to find out how they are coping with coronavirus.
Although Japan never went into a full lockdown – since there are no legal provisions that give the government such powers – many of us are stuck at home under virus guidelines.
Main shopping areas are closed, businesses are suffering, and people are stressed out.
Even as the government muses on how to relax the restrictions, many of us are conflicted, wanting to save livelihoods – but also wanting to save lives.
Yes, the case figures and death tolls are almost inexplicably low, but not many are taking comfort in this. And many are questioning the government’s response to the crisis.
The project of sending each household two cloth masks became the target of derision and exasperation – some were dirty and defective, the project was considered too expensive, the contracts were murky, and most of the country still hasn’t received them.
Many also consider the government’s financial support too little too late, and too mired in bureaucracy. After much protest on social media – and prodding from not just the opposition but from within the ruling coalition – the government finally promised to pay each resident Y100K (£766, $935).
But three weeks after the announcement, most of us are yet to see the necessary application forms.
On top of that, there has been a massive Twitter protest (as well as a silent gathering outside parliament) against the government trying to rush through a bill that would give the cabinet powers to extend the retirement age of chief prosecutors.
Coupled with the various corruption allegations connected to the government prior to the pandemic, the sense that the government is trying to bulldoze this through when the country is suffering has resulted in the hashtag protest gaining 9 million tweets.
With so many suffering financially, physically, and emotionally, many of us are finding it difficult to accept the “new normal” when there is much uncertainty in the air.
Primary children in Denmark have been back at school for a month now.
It was the first country in Western Europe to reopen its primary schools, after containing the virus early on. There have been fewer than 550 deaths in Denmark so far.
Our Europe correspondent Jean Mackenzie spent the day at the Lynghøj primary school:
Two British nationals “stranded” in Fiji say permission to return to New Zealand has come six weeks too late.
Abdulla Mohsin and Catherine David, originally from Derbyshire, went to Fiji for their honeymoon before New Zealand, where they now live, closed its borders to most non-residents in March.
Initially, Mr Mohsin and Ms David were told that because they were on a “work to residency” visa, they were not classed as residents, despite living in Auckland since January 2019.
They have now been granted an exception to return to the country but no flights are scheduled until the end of June.
Copyright: Science Photo Library
The United Nations has warned the coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread psychological distress – exacerbated by a long-term lack of investment in mental health care in many countries.
From frontline health professionals, to laid-off workers, to families struggling to home-school, to elderly people suffering loneliness and anxiety, the pandemic is taking a severe toll on many people’s mental health.
In a policy document released on Thursday, the UN is calling for countries to include mental health and psycho-social support in their pandemic response plans.
Good mental health is critical to a functioning society, the UN says – and without these actions, the world faces not just a physical health crisis, but a mental health crisis as well.
The coronavirus “may never go away”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
“It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” WHO emergencies director Dr Mike Ryan said.
He added that even if a vaccine was found, controlling the virus would require a “massive effort”.
Almost 300,000 people worldwide have died with coronavirus, with more than 4.3m cases recorded.
China recorded only three new infections in the past day, officials said on Thursday. That’s down from seven new cases a day earlier.
All three cases were local transmission and were recorded in the north-eastern provinces of Liaoning and Jilin.
The city of Shulan in Jilin had a small new cluster over the weekend, stoking fears of a resurgence that have yet to be realised.
The figures also showed there were no new fatalities and 12 asymptomatic cases.
The total number of cases stands at 82,929 – while the death toll remains at at 4,633.
For weeks, Dr Anthony Fauci has been the face of the US administration’s coronavirus task force. The epidemiologist is among the top medical advisers to President Donald Trump on the virus.
Now there is open disagreement between Trump and the medical expert. Fauci had warned against opening schools and the economy too soon, as it might trigger a surge in new infections.
Trump dismissed the warning as “not acceptable”, accusing Fauci of wanting “to play all sides of the equation”.
The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made his warning in a testimony to lawmakers. Political pressure to reopen the economy is growing – despite new infections remaining high.
Erin Rae, in Nashville, and Mali, in Mumbai, are both singer-songwriters.
They talk about the impact of the pandemic on their work and what they think the future of music will look like.
Here’s what they had to say…and sing:
The data has just come out – and the Australian jobless rate has jumped from 5.2% to 6.2% in April – lower than the 8.3% forecast by economists.
Still, that’s a loss of 600,000 jobs in a country not as severely affected as many others around the world.
But already, analysts say that number doesn’t reflect the true damage to the economy. Welfare programmes have helped cushion the numbers.
Over six million Australians are receiving pay subsidised by the government. One million Australians have applied for unemployment payments. Together, that’s over 40% of the workforce.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the nation: “It is a very tough day. Shocking but not unexpected.”
He said more economic pain would come in the coming months, but the reopening of society in coming weeks would help.
The government has forecast unemployment will hit 10% by June, and GDP will fall 10% in the same period – the largest quarterly fall on record.
New Zealand – hailed a world leader for its virus success – has moved into its next stage of reopening.
So what’s open in the “Level 2” phase? Basically, everything except bars.
Shopping malls, clothing shops, cinemas, garden centres, hairdressers, massage parlours and restaurants are all open for business. Bars will have to wait another week
Up to 10 people can meet up, although more are allowed if they’re family. But people should still maintain at least a 1m distance when going out.
New Zealand only started to exit its lockdown three weeks ago. It has reported no new cases for the past three days.
Japan is expected today to lift its state of emergency for 39 of its 47 prefectures – though Tokyo is set to keep restrictions in place.
Prefectures like Hokkaido – which at one stage was the worst-hit region in Japan – and large cities like Osaka are also expected to keep restrictions.
The state of emergency was meant to last until 6 May, but was then extended to 31 May.
It gives local authorities extra authority to order people to stay at home, and close schools and businesses – but there is no penalty imposed for non-compliance.
Japan has a relatively small number of infections, with 16,000 confirmed cases in a population of around 126 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
This may be more indicative of its low rate of testing. Only those who are quite ill are getting tested – though the government has started to ease guidelines for those seeking virus tests.
Copyright: Getty Images
Welcome back to our rolling coverage of all things coronavirus. With our teams across the globe, we’ll keep you posted on all developments today.
Here’s what you need to know as Asia kicks off this Thursday morning.
- Japan is expected to lift the state of emergency in most of the country – although Tokyo and other badly-affected prefectures will keep the measures for now
- The virus “may never go away”, an official at the World Health Organization has warned
- Brazil has seen another daily record – with more than 11,000 new infections in the past day
- The US has accused China of hacking organisations researching treatments and vaccines for Covid-19
- After a top US medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, warned against reopening schools and the economy too quickly, President Trump says this was “not an acceptable answer”
- Countries across the EU are planning to reopen their borders in the coming weeks
- The UK says it is “very likely” the country is in a “significant recession”