WHO clarifies ‘immunity passport’ advice





Spain’s daily death toll drops below 300 for first time in weeks

Spanish health authorities have begun to outline plans to move towards “a new normality” as the number of overnight coronavirus deaths in the country dropped below 300 for the first time in weeks, writes Sam Jones.

On Sunday, children under 14 were allowed out to exercise for the first time since mid-March, and the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that adults could also be allowed to exercise outside from next weekend if efforts to contain the spread of the virus continue to pay off.

Speaking on Sunday, Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, said recent figures showed a “clear descending trend”, adding that the government’s decision to allow some non-essential workers to return to their jobs a fortnight ago had not had any negative impact so far.

Simón said that the time had come to talk of a transition “to normality – within the limits of the coronavirus:

It won’t be the normality we knew a year ago. It will be a new normality in which, over the coming months, we’ll need to ensure that we can reduce the risks of transmission and new outbreaks enough so that their effects are not as negative as they have been this time.

He said that a panel of experts had given the government a set of recommendations for the next steps in the country’s “transition”. They say the health system must be ready – and have the right resources – to respond to another outbreak, and stress there must be effective monitoring of the disease even as cases fall. They also urge swift and aggressive quarantining and testing protocols, and strict compliance with social distancing rules.

“If all parts of the health system can show that they can meet these criteria, we’ll be in a position – epidemiological considerations permitting – to begin the transition towards new phases of this new normality,” added Simón.

Over the past 24 hours, 1,729 new cases have been detected, 3,024 people have been pronounced cured, and 288 people have died – down from 378 on Saturday.

Spain has now confirmed a total of 207,634 cases using PCR tests and recorded 23,190 deaths. The growth rate of new cases currently stands at 0.8% – down from 3% in recent weeks and 38% when the state of emergency was declared on 14 March.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has reached 1,531 in Afghanistan as the number of transmission continued to surge in Kandahar amid an intensified war across the country, my colleague Akhtar Mohammad Makoli reports.

Despite the lockdown in several provinces, streets are still crowded and experts warn that contain spread of Coronavirus may be challenging.

Akhtar Mohammad Makoii

Dispite a lockdown, streets are crowded even more than normal days in Herat, Afghanistan.
Daily number of new transmissions:
Today: 68
Apr25: 133
Apr24: 95
Apr23: 83
Apr22: 51
Apr21: 66
Apr20: 30

Death toll stands at 47 pic.twitter.com/Ahx3orEhDo

April 26, 2020

The Taliban have rejected pleas from Nato and Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to declare a ceasefire to help contain spread of Coronavirus.

In a statement, Nato has asked for an immediate ceasefire in the country saying that it encourages both sides “to demonstrate goodwill by accelerating the release of prisoners” and as a confidence-building measure and to embrace the international community’s call “for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

But the Taliban’s spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, tweeted late on Thursday to reject the offer, citing ongoing disagreements over a potential peace process and a delayed prisoner exchange as reasons to keep fighting.

“Asking for ceasefire is not rational and convincing,” wrote Shaheen as he accused the government of putting prisoners’ lives at risk during the outbreak.

The militant group have intensified their attacks in recent days. About 100 security forces and 34 civilians were killed in their attacks over the last week.

Wahidullah Mayar, a health ministry spokesman, said on Saturday the country is in a “very sensitive” time and once again called on the Taliban to declare ceasefire.

“No one is secure against the the virus, we are all vulnerable. We need an immediate ceasefires, instead of fighting with ourselves, let’s get united and fight with one enemy,” he said


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India’s Modi urges citizens to comply with lockdown as cases rise


‘We’d go bust in months’: British restaurants at a loss over social distancing dilemma

The UK’s £72bn hospitality sector, which employs 3.2 million people, has been struggling with what a socially distanced restaurant business might look like. A number of London branches of sandwich chain Pret a Manger have reopened in the past couple of weeks, with Perspex screens separating staff and customers, and only 15% of the usual menu, so there could be fewer people in the kitchen. However, it is takeaway-only.

Traditional waiter-service restaurants say they are finding it hard to see how they could function at all with social distancing. Restaurateur Russell Norman spent a day measuring the floor space in one branch of his normally bustling small-plates Polpo group. “Keeping everyone two metres apart would require taking out two-thirds of the seats and that simply wouldn’t be economically viable,” he said. “And for a party of four, you would need a table which was 2.5 metres square, which is huge. It would also leave the restaurant with nothing approaching atmosphere.”


Italy to reopen manufacturing industry in just over a week


Public trust plummets in Britain’s handling of pandemic, new poll reveals

The public’s confidence in the government’s ability to handle the coronavirus crisis has fallen sharply in the past fortnight, with less than half of voters now having faith in decisions made by ministers, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer.

A particularly low proportion of people (15%) believe the government is handling the key issue of testing well (down from 22% two weeks ago). Some 57% disapprove of the way testing has been handled, up from 48% on 7 April.

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