– Ramadan under lockdown –
Muslims around the world begin marking the holy daytime fasting month of Ramadan under the coronavirus lockdown.
Movement restrictions on hundreds of millions of Muslims from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Africa involve bans on prayers in mosques and large gatherings of families and friends to break the fast.
– WHO pushes for vaccine ‘for all’ –
The World Health Organization joins forces with world leaders and the private sector on an initiative to speed up development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and ensure equal access for all.
– US virus toll tops 50,000 –
At least 193,930 people have died worldwide since the epidemic surfaced in China in December, with the US toll topping 50,000, according to an AFP tally at 1900 GMT Friday based on official sources.
More than 2,770,750 cases have now been reported in 193 countries or territories.
The United States has the most deaths of any country with 50,360.
Italy is the second hardest-hit country, with 25,969 dead. Spain follows with 22,524 then France with 22,245 and Britain with 19,506.
– Economic pain –
The US economy is expected to contract by around 12 percent in the second quarter of the year and the jobless rate reach nearly 14 percent as a result of lockdowns, the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says.
The Italian government estimates that the public deficit will rise to 10.4 percent of GDP and debt to 155.7 percent in 2020.
In Russia, the central bank says the economy will shrink by up to six percent this year, as hopes of a revival are dashed by the coronavirus and falling oil prices.
– Aid –
US President Donald Trump signs into law a stimulus plan worth nearly half a trillion dollars to back small businesses and hospitals embattled during the pandemic.
France is readying a seven-billion-euro ($7.5 billion) package to help flag-carrier Air France through the crisis, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says. For carmaker Renault, a five-billion-euro bank loan package guaranteed by the state is being worked on.
The Dutch government says it plans to support Air France’s partner KLM with an aid package worth between two to four billion euros.
– Restrictions eased –
The Czech government allows freedom of movement for the first time in nearly six weeks and announces it will reopen the country’s borders to European Union business travellers.
Israel approves new steps to ease its lockdown measures for retail and service businesses. All shops except malls will be allowed to reopen if they follow strict measures.
Algeria, Libya and Tunisia announce an easing of curfews for the month of Ramadan. Morocco, however, announces a night-time curfew for the whole of the fasting month.
– Germany prepares for second wave –
Berlin’s Messe exhibition centre is being made into a 1,000-bed hospital with the help of German soldiers, as the country prepares for a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic.
– Trump plays down disinfectant row –
Trump on Friday plays down a furor over his suggestion that people could try injecting disinfectants to fight the novel coronavirus, claiming he was being “sarcastic”.