Ten more COVID-19 cases; total Jamaican cases stands at 432

Jamaica's now has 432 cases of COVID-19. There were 10 new cases in the last 24 hours.

The new cases are made up of one employee of the business process outsourcing entity Alorica, located in Portmore, St Catherine, and seven are contacts of Alorica employees.

Two of the cases are under investigation.

There are now 205 confirmed COVID-19 cases related to Alorica. These cases are primarily from the parishes of St Catherine and Kingston and St Andrew. Their ages range from 18 to 53 years. They include 154 females and 51 males. Of note following investigations one previously confirmed case was reclassified and placed within Alorica.

At this time, Jamaica has 35 imported cases, 140 cases are contacts of a confirmed case, nine are local transmission cases not epidemiologically-linked, and 248 are under investigation (205 of those under investigation are linked to Alorica). Some 266 (62 per cent) of the confirmed cases are females and 166 (38 per cent) are males. The ages of all confirmed cases range from two months to 87 years.

There are now 446 patients in isolation and 88 in quarantine at a Government facility. Eight Jamaicans have died, while two additional patients have recovered and have been released from hospital, bringing the total recovered and released to 31.OVID-19 Updates: Friday May 1st 2020

Trinidad: Digicel asks employees to take pay cut

Digicel has asked all employees, including managers, to take a temporary salary reduction due to the financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Managers at the highest salary tiers will get a 20 percent cut, while employees at lower salary tiers will be asked to take a five percent reduction. The chairman and all non-executive directors will waive their entire salaries for the first quarter of the fiscal year," Digicel confirmed in a statement on Thursday night.

It said staff on an annual salary of US$10,000 or less will not be affected by the decision.

The salary cuts will take effect from today (May 1) and will last for the next 11 months.

"Given the dire economic situation that the world has begun to experience, this measure is necessary in order to keep as many people as possible employed at Digicel, as well as to ensure company continuity," the company stated.

Digicel T&T chief executive officer Jabbor Kayumov announced the decision to staff during a virtual meeting on Thursday.

Covid Chaos in Germany

Germany's new coronavirus infections hit five-day high after warning country may be forced to bring back lockdown Germany faces bringing back a stricter lockdown after new coronavirus infections reached a five-day high and saw a spike in the daily death toll.

The country has been easing its lockdown after faring better than its European neighbours following an aggressive policy of Covid-19 mass testing.

Yesterday Germany announced it would re-open museums, galleries, zoos and playgrounds and allow religious services to resume, in measures agreed by the Chancellor Angela Merkel along with the leaders of 16 federal states. But new figures suggesting a rise of infections could now scupper this with Merkel saying the relaxation would be reviewed next week.

She said: "We must work to make sure we bring the number of new infections down further. "If the infection curve becomes steep again, we need to have a warning system to notice it early and be able to act."

According to the German disease and epidemic control center, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 160,758, with a total of 6,481 deaths reported.

Global number of infections passes 3.2m

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, at least 3.2 million people are known to have been infected around the world, while at least 233,000 have died. The figures are unlikely to represent the true scale of the pandemic due to suspected under-reporting and differing data recording and testing regimes.

UK death toll rises to at least 27,510

The UK reports 739 more deaths, bringing the total death toll in the country to 27,510. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, says 177,454 people have tested positive; an increase of 6,201 since Thursday's update. Of those, 15,111 patients are in hospital, Hancock says.

US military develops test in potential breakthrough

Scientists working for the US military design a new test that could identify carriers before they become infectious and spread the disease. Project coordinators hope the blood-based test will be able to detect the virus's presence about four days before current tests can.

Israel to partially reopen schools

The country's government announces it will partially reopen schools on Sunday, with a full return for all students by 1 June. First, second and third graders as well as 11th and 12th graders can return to school from Sunday, the first day of the week in Israel. Childcare and kindergartens, for children aged up to six, will remain closed for at least another week, the government says.

India extends lockdown

The country extends its lockdown – the world's broadest by population – for two more weeks, but with some easing of restrictions in areas with few cases. The home ministry says that in view of "significant gains in the Covid-19 situation", there will be "considerable relaxations" in areas with few or no cases.

South Africa begins to ease lockdown

Some industries are allowed to reopen after five weeks of restrictions in Africa's most industrialised nation, which was already struggling with low growth and high debts when the lockdown began on 27 March.

Coronavirus: US intelligence debunks theory it was 'manmade'

The US intelligence community has determined Covid-19 "was not manmade or genetically modified", though it is still investigating the virus' origins.

The National Intelligence chief's office said agencies are looking into whether the outbreak began from animal contact or a laboratory accident.

President Donald Trump later suggested he had seen evidence the virus came out of a Chinese laboratory.

China has rejected the theory and criticised the US response to Covid-19.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on Thursday it concurs with the "wide scientific consensus" regarding Covid-19's natural origins.

"The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan."

The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China. There are now over 3.2 million cases worldwide and more than 231,000 deaths.