Coronavirus latest: Australia calls for inquiry into origins of Covid-19


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Pakistan on Saturday lifted restrictions on group prayers at mosques but put in place new conditions to block the further spread of coronavirus in the country. It will be mandatory for worshippers to wear masks and maintain a distance of 6ft from each other, rather than pray shoulder to shoulder as traditionally practised. Additionally, administrations of mosques were also required to disinfect their premises.

The World Bank’s specially designed pandemic bonds will pay out $132.5m to some of the poorest nations affected by coronavirus, the Washington-based institution confirmed on Saturday. AThe bank issued two classes of bonds three years ago in a $320m deal designed to help developing nations facing a serious outbreak of infectious disease.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, appealed for calm as protests against social distancing measures have sprung up around the country, encouraged by Donald Trump. “The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall,” Mr Cuomo said. His comments appeared to be an implicit critique of Mr Trump, who has urged citizens to “liberate” Michigan and other states in which Democratic governors have imposed lockdowns.

New York will begin allowing citizens to obtain marriage licences remotely, and to conduct wedding ceremonies by video link. “There’s now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage,” Mr Cuomo said in his Saturday briefing. “You can do it by Zoom.”

Canada and the US will extend their border closure agreement for at least another 30 days, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said. The nearly 9,000km frontier is closed except to trade, essential workers and citizens returning home. The deal is “another example of the excellent collaboration between our two nations”, Mr Trudeau said on Saturday.

The UK has recorded another 888 coronavirus deaths in hospitals over the past 24 hours, for a total of 15,464 as of 5pm on Friday, the health department said on Saturday. It is the third consecutive daily increase above 800. As of 9am 18 April, 460,437 tests have concluded, with 21,389 tests on 17 April. Of the 357,023 people tested for the virus, 114,217 have been positive, the Department of Health said.

Spain will extend its five-week coronavirus lockdown until May 9, but plans to relax the regime – one of the toughest in the world – to allow children out of their homes before the end of this month. Pedro Sánchez, prime minister, said in a televised address on Saturday night that he would ask parliament for a new two-week extension of the state of alert – the extraordinary legal order underpinning the lockdown.

Greece is making plans to gradually loosen its lockdown from next month, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday. “I believe that at the end of this month we’ll have a much clearer picture [of the situation] so that in May, if there is no dramatic change, we can begin to relax the lockdown. But it will happen step by step,” he told Kathimerini.

The UK government is handing £1.6bn to local authorities in England after some said they would run out of money within weeks because of the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. Robert Jenrick, local government secretary, said it would help bridge the gap caused by increased spending and lower revenue and pay for housing rough sleepers, shielding vulnerable people and assisting public health and fire and rescue services.

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