Czech Republic relaxes some coronavirus restrictions despite more than 5,000 cases
From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova, Laura Smith-Spark and Sarah Dean
The Czech government announced Monday it would begin relaxing some coronavirus restrictions this week, including allowing some stores to reopen and exercising without a mask.
“People will be able to exercise alone without face masks as of Tuesday. On Thursday, certain shops that have been closed until now, will be allowed to reopen. Essential travel outside the Czech Republic will be allowed from Tuesday, 14 April,” a government press release says.
Shops such as hobby markets, construction and hardware stores, bicycle stores and repair centers are among those allowed to reopen. Outdoor sports facilities for individual sports are also opening, but only to some extent (for example, you can play tennis, but can't take a shower in the center afterwards).
According to the Ministry of Health, as of 9 a.m. local time on Thursday, the number of confirmed cases in the Czech Republic has now reached 5,033 and 91 people have died. The number of people tested for coronavirus is 98,681.
There have been at least 295 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University's count.
5:17 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
Sub-Saharan Africa to fall into its first recession in 25 years due to coronavirus, says World Bank
From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke in Nairobi
Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to fall sharply in 2020 and the region will suffer its first recession in 25 years, according to a World Bank report published Thursday.
The World Bank estimates "Covid-19 will cost the region between $37 billion and $79 billion in output losses for 2020 due to a combination of effects" including trade disruption and reduced remittances, tourism and foreign aid.
While most countries in the region will see a decline in growth, "real gross domestic product growth is projected to fall sharply particularly in the region's three largest economies -- Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa -- as a result of persistently weak growth and investment," the report said.
The World Bank also warned of a potential food security crisis in Africa as a result of disrupted agricultural production and food imports.
While several African countries swiftly implemented measures to curb the spread of the outbreak, the report identified "several factors that pose challenges to the containment and mitigation measures, in particular the large and densely populated urban informal settlements, poor access to safe water and sanitation facilities, and fragile health systems."
"There is no doubt there will be need for some sort of debt relief from bilateral creditors to secure the resources urgently needed to fight Covid-19 and to help manage or maintain macroeconomic stability in the region," said Cesar Calderon, lead economist and lead author of the report, in a statement from the World Bank.
6:20 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
"We have reached the peak" of the pandemic, says Spain's PM
From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Ingrid Formanek in Madrid
Spain will soon start the process of de-escalation of the current lockdown measures in place to mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said today, as he asked Parliament to approve his request to extend the country’s state of emergency until April 26.
“We have reached the peak and now the de-escalation begins,” Sanchez told a nearly empty Spanish Parliament Thursday, as most lawmakers are working from home.
He cautioned however, that return to normal life would be “gradual”, in line with the severity of the current health crisis.
“The climb has been difficult, as the descent will also be.” “We are facing the biggest threat to the planet’s public health since the flu of 1918,” Sanchez said, explaining that the resumption of normal activity would only happen in phases. “The last thing we should allow is a step backwards because that would be more than a setback” but “it would be a rebound”, for the virus.
The head of the Spanish government went on to say that “Europe cannot afford to look the other way,” when it comes to the novel coronavirus and called on MPs to unite and advocate for a united European response to the crisis. “The European Union is in danger if there is no solidarity against the virus.”
The Spanish Prime Minister told opposition MPs that his government is “working on a plan” to slowly bring the country back into some form or “normality” but warned: “We can’t even know what kind of normality we’re returning to.”
Spain has been the world's second most heavily affected country by the coronavirus pandemic so far, after the US. Almost 150,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been detected and the death toll currently stands at 14,792.
4:44 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
Russia records significant one-day rise in coronavirus cases, taking total past 10,000
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia has risen by more than 1,000 in a single day, with the country's coronavirus tracking headquarters announcing a total of 10,131 infections in the country.
On Wednesday morning, there were only 8,672 confirmed cases in the country. So far, Russia has recorded at least 63 fatalities from the virus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said his country had acted early to keep the virus under control, but Russia has gradually stepped up measures to contain its spread, closing borders and directing citizens to stay at home.
4:37 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
US special repatriation flight departs Russia
A special flight chartered by the US government to repatriate American citizens from Russia departed Moscow this morning, according to the US embassy.
“It's been a long night at the airport in Moscow as we've worked to get folks on this charter flight home to family and friends in the United States,” US Ambassador John Sullivan said in a statement posted on Twitter by embassy spokesperson Rebecca Ross. “My sincere thanks to everyone who helped.”
Separately, a flight on Aeroflot, Russia’s national carrier, landed late on Tuesday at New York’s JFK airport carrying Americans returning from Russia. An earlier Aeroflot flight to New York had been cancelled at the last minute by Russian aviation authorities.
“We are working hard to confirm who was on the Aeroflot flight and reconcile that against the list of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who registered for our charter flight,” the US embassy in Moscow said in a statement.
Russia has officially confirmed 8,672 cases of novel coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
4:27 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
Cox's Bazar, home to the world's largest refugee camp, is under lockdown
From CNN's Helen Regan
Bangladesh has imposed lockdown restrictions on its southern district of Cox’s Bazar, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus from reaching the sprawling and crowded refugee camps that house about 1 million Rohingya people.
Under the restrictions, which went into effect on Wednesday, all roads, waterways and air routes are sealed for any in- and outbound public transport, Deputy Commissioner for Cox’s Bazar Kamal Hossain told CNN.
In addition, no one from other districts in the country will be allowed to enter Cox's Bazar, and no one will be allowed to leave, Hossain said.
“People are advised to stay inside their homes,” he said.
Food supplies, medicine and other life-saving emergency services are exempted.
“People may experience inconvenience in the beginning but in the long run it will save their lives. Food and medical services are open in full swing in Rohingya camps. As the camp areas are overcrowded, it is important to protect the area from coronavirus,” Hossain said. “District administration has asked all concerned to ensure the well-being of Rohingya community during this difficult time.”
The announcement comes about two weeks after the district reported its first coronavirus case. Bangladesh has more than 200 cases of Covid-19 and 20 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The camps, located about an hour’s drive from Cox's Bazar city, are home to as many as 1 million displaced people -- the largest such refugee settlement in the world.
Many of the refugees have been languishing in the overcrowded camps since fleeing persecution and violence in neighboring Myanmar.
There are concerns that an outbreak in the camps – where social distancing is almost impossible and there is limited access to adequate hygiene and health facilities -- would be disastrous.
Non-essential services in the camps have stopped: In late March, the Bangladeshi government confirmed that most services in the refugee camps would be suspended, in an attempt to prevent an outbreak of the virus. However, emergency work would continue.
Call to lift internet restrictions: Earlier this month, 50 rights and refugee organizations called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an open letter to lift ongoing mobile internet restrictions in the camps.
UNHCR is building an isolation and treatment center in the camps: The UN refugee agencysaid the facility, which will provide care for up to 200 people, will help the refugee and local population. “We are in a race against time,” said UNHCR country representative for Bangladesh, Steven Corliss in a video statement.
4:20 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
UK government emergency committee to discuss coronavirus restrictions today
From CNN's Simon Cullen
Cobra, the UK government’s emergency committee, will meet today to discuss options to review coronavirus restrictions -- but the culture minister has downplayed the likelihood they will be lifted.
The restrictions on people’s movements were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson almost three weeks ago, and are due to be reviewed by Monday.
"We’ve always said though, that we would review these measures on a periodic basis," culture minister Oliver Dowden told BBC TV on Thursday. "Cobra will meet today to determine that process – what evidence to consider. "But I think you will have seen … these measures are starting to work. Now is not the time to be changing course."
A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Cobra meeting will be held "virtually".
No possibility: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she doesn’t think there is any possibility or likelihood that the restrictions will be lifted soon.
Sturgeon told Sky News today it’s important the current rules remain in place for the time being. "We don’t yet have enough data from what has happened so far to know for sure the impact they’re having. And of course we continue to see the number of deaths from coronavirus rising," she said.
4:01 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
It's just past 10 a.m. in Paris and 6 p.m in Sydney. Here's the latest on the pandemic
If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.
Macron supports WHO: French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his support for the World Health Organization in a phone call with director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Macron said he "refuses to see it locked in a war between China and the United States."
Germany deaths rise: The country's death toll has risen to 2,107 -- an increase of 246 fatalities in 24 hours. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in the country jumped by nearly 5% from Wednesday to Thursday.
UK lockdown exit strategy: The government’s emergency committee, Cobra, will meet today to discuss options to review lockdown restrictions. The newly-elected leader of the opposition Labour Party has called on the government to publish its strategy to end the lockdown.
Ruby Princess investigation: Australian police boarded the cruise ship Wednesday night to gather evidence into how thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney last month resulting in a spike in coronavirus cases.
India's containment strategy: Several states in India have set up hundreds of “containment zones” in areas that have seen a concentration of coronavirus cases. In Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state, officials have set up 104 zones, which will be “completely sealed” until April 15.
Man jailed for spitting at police: A man has been sentenced to three months in jail after spitting at police, according to New Zealand Police. "In the current environment we have identified spitting as an escalating risk to both police officers and the community and it will not be tolerated," a police statement said.
3:49 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020
UK opposition leader calls on government to publish lockdown exit strategy
From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London
Newly-elected UK opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the government to publish its strategy to end the coronavirus lockdown.
“I’m not calling for precise timings, but the strategy. This is incredibly difficult on people and we need to know that plans are in place, and what they are,” he said today in a tweet.
The British government brought in coronavirus containment measures for an initial three-week period on March 23.
More than 61,000 coronavirus cases and at least 7,000 deaths have been recorded in the United Kingdom, according to Johns Hopkins University.