In India, unexpected volunteer efforts to enforce the lockdown risk stoking divisions and xenophobia.
Volunteer virus patrol squads are popping up across India. Neighborhoods are imposing extra rules and sealing themselves off. In rural areas, some carry sticks, sickles and pockets full of nails for puncturing the tires of cars they deem suspicious.
In a fractious country of 1.3 billion people, it has long been difficult to get individuals and communities to follow the rules. But as the country’s lockdown — the world’s largest — grinds on, many people are not just abiding by the measures, they are going above and beyond them.
One neighborhood association in Ghaziabad, near Delhi, tried to require all residents to download the government’s official coronavirus app on their phones, until several residents complained it was an invasion of privacy.
The volunteer efforts could help India protect its people, given the weak health care system, the enormous population and packed slums that leave many susceptible to outbreaks. But the measures also risk stoking divisions and xenophobia.
In one community in southern India, upper caste residents recently dug a five-foot-deep trench around the homes of several Dalits, the lowest on the caste ladder, to keep the communities separate. Muslims, a large minority in a Hindu-dominated land, are facing a burst of bigotry and attacks.
India has reported about 16,000 confirmed infections and 500 deaths, far less per capita than many richer countries. But its testing rates are also lower, and some health experts believe the virus is lurking undetected.
France’s prime minister cites progress but lays out a gradual reopening with no normalcy ‘for a long time.’
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Sunday that France’s lockdown had slowed coronavirus infections and deaths but that the health crisis was “not over” — and that life was unlikely to return to normal “for a long time” after restrictions are officially lifted on May 11.
In a more than two-hour news briefing, Mr. Philippe outlined a blueprint for a gradual re-opening that would pivot around a strict continuation of social distancing measures, including the likely compulsory use of masks on public transportation and temporary isolation for anyone who tests positive.
“We will have to learn to live with the virus,” he said. “We will not have a vaccine quickly and there is no known effective treatment at this stage. We have only one instrument left: prevention.”
Enforcement of preventive measures has included over 13 million police checks and 800,000 fines since the French were ordered to shelter at home in mid-March, Mr. Philippe said.
In the last 24 hours, 395 people died, a sharp drop-off from just a few days ago. The disease has killed at least 19,718 people in France since the beginning of March.
The number of intensive care patients declined for the 11th day in a row.
A similar evolution has taken place in Italy and Spain, the hardest-hit in Europe with more than 20,000 deaths each. For the past 10 days, the progression of cases and deaths has slowed in both countries, bringing a wave of relief to populations who have been under lockdown for more than a month.
In Italy, once the epicenter of the pandemic, the daily number of new cases fell to less than 4,000, down from around 6,000 in late March. For the first time in a month, new deaths dropped below 500 on Saturday. Last Monday, Spain decided to ease some aspects of its lockdown after days of a continuous slowdown in infections.
Rather than a peak — which would be followed by a sharp decrease in casualties and cases — Italy, Spain and France seem to have reached a high plateau that is slowly decreasing over time but still threatens to rebound. The three countries are devising plans to exit their lockdowns, which have been extended into May.
Dozens of workers in Afghanistan’s presidential palace test positive.
At least 40 staff members in Afghanistan’s presidential palace in Kabul have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Afghan officials said on Sunday, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to isolate himself and attend events via video conference.
There is no evidence that Mr. Ghani himself is infected, and it was not known whether he has been tested.
But an official at the palace said that most of the 40 people who tested positive work for the administrative wing of the president’s office, the national security council and the office of Mr. Ghani’s chief of staff. A second senior official confirmed that dozens had tested positive after hundreds of palace workers were tested more than a week ago. Those with confirmed infections were sent into quarantine. The official did not provide more details.
Mr. Ghani, 70, who lost much of his stomach to cancer decades ago, has kept himself isolated in recent weeks, appearing in person only at some events and attending most of his engagements via video conference.
The flow of people into the palace has been reduced. Visitors are sprayed with disinfectant head to toe and subject to temperature checks before they are frisked by elite guards in hazmat suits.
In early March, more than two weeks after the first positive case was recorded in Afghanistan, thousands of guests packed into the palace as Mr. Ghani took the oath of office for his second term — even though his administration was already discouraging gatherings to slow the spread of the virus.
Reuters quoted a senior health official as saying that the virus had arrived in the palace offices via “a contaminated document,” but the virus is not known to thrive on paper. The Afghan president does have a penchant for reading; he spends many evenings poring over government documents at his residence, and often rewrites strategy papers drafted by his officials.
Afghanistan has reported just under 1,000 coronavirus cases. But those numbers certainly underestimate the spread, officials say, since testing has been extremely limited. The country has conducted only about 7,000 tests.
Motoko Rich, The Times’s Tokyo bureau chief, spent two years in Tokyo as a child and returned with her own family to Japan in 2016. She reported extensively on the coronavirus outbreak on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship and has watched as Japan slowly awakened to the growing threat of domestic outbreaks. We asked her to tell us about life there.
It was a scene of normalcy, something friends in New York or London or San Francisco can only conjure in memory: a man and a woman, out for a drink.
Tokyo had already been in a coronavirus state of emergency for more than a week. But through the windows of a narrow restaurant in Roppongi, a popular nightlife district in central Tokyo, I could see them sipping from large beer steins, chatting in nonsocial distancing proximity.
Several other patrons waited, face masks pulled down under their chins, while cooks served up battered octopus balls.
Nobody was breaking any laws: even Japan’s new state of emergency only empowers governors to request that people stay home and that businesses close. The Tokyo governor has asked people to refrain from going out at night, but said restaurants and bars may stay open until 8 p.m., prompting macabre jokes about the virus’s nocturnal habits.
Tokyo is a place where people follow rules. They wait for green lights to cross streets. In subway stations, they board escalators single file.
But there is always room for subversion. On my normal route to work, I pass an alley book-ended by “no smoking” signs, always crowded with smokers. Tokyo’s cacophonous (and alcohol-soaked) nightlife caters to employees seeking an escape from days conforming to Japan’s hierarchical work culture. Even under the threat of a deadly virus, people don’t relinquish these outlets easily.
Some social distancing is also built into the culture. We bow rather than shake hands. Hugging is rare. And while the Western world debated whether face masks were needed, Japanese did what came naturally. Long before the coronavirus, especially during winter flu seasons, Tokyo’s trains were filled with faces shielded behind white masks.
Antibody tests are being rushed to market amid concern about their reliability.
Companies around the world are rolling out blood tests for coronavirus antibodies, widely heralded as crucial tools to assess the reach of the pandemic, restart the economy and reintegrate society.
But for all their promise, the tests are already raising alarms.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed about 90 companies, many based in China, to sell tests that have not gotten government vetting, saying the pandemic warrants an urgent response. But the agency has since warned that some of those businesses are making false claims about their products; health officials, like their counterparts overseas, have found others deeply flawed.
Most tests now available mistakenly flag at least some people as having antibodies when they do not, which could foster a dangerously false belief that those people have immunity. In fact, while higher levels generally mean a stronger physiological response, it is unclear what levels might be needed for immunity to the new coronavirus — or whether any immunity would be lasting.
There are several kinds of tests on the market. The easiest to administer — and the most unreliable — are rapid tests, which can give results in minutes. Most are manufactured in China. Reports of countries that quickly bought millions have just as swiftly been followed by accounts of poor performance. The World Health Organization recommends against their use.
For example, Britain recently said the millions of rapid tests it had ordered from China were not sensitive enough to detect antibodies except in people who were severely ill. In Spain, the testing push turned into a fiasco last month after the initial batch of kits it received had an accuracy of 30 percent, rather than the advertised 80 percent. In Italy, local officials have begun testing even before national authorities have validated the tests.
Germany, which has emerged as a model among Western democracies in its efforts to curb the spread of the virus, is pursuing one of the most ambitious antibody studies, striving to test its entire population. It is more optimistic than other countries because it has made its own antibody tests.
Chile will issue ‘immunity cards’ to people who have recovered from the virus.
Chile is set to become the first country to issue “immunity cards” to those who have recovered from the coronavirus, allowing holders to return to work, despite questions about whether those who have recovered are in fact immune, how long any immunity might last, and the accuracy of antibody tests.
“We have to learn to live differently,” Dr. Paula Daza, the undersecretary in Chile’s health ministry, said on Sunday, adding that Chileans must “gradually resume our lives.”
Anyone can apply for the cards, which will be issued starting Monday. To qualify, Chileans have to take a test that shows they have antibodies for the novel coronavirus. Those who have had the disease must be free of symptoms for at least 14 days — or 28, if they have a compromised immune system.
Chile has imposed quarantines that remain in place across parts of the capital, Santiago, and in other regions of the country. It has also tested more people for the virus than any other Latin American country, identifying 10,088 coronavirus cases, and 133 deaths.
The health minister, Jaime Mañalich, has reiterated that “the worst is yet to come,” with the number of cases expected to peak in May. The flu season, which is fast approaching along with winter in the southern hemisphere, is likely to strain Chile’s public health system further.
Nonetheless, the government has announced that public sector employees will also return to their offices starting Monday.
“The message coming from the government is contradictory,” said Dr. Jorge Jiménez de la Jara, who served as Chile’s health minister upon the country’s return to democracy in 1990.
“We don’t know what is going to happen from here, but there certainly needs to be clearer, more coherent communication, because this latest decision to certify immunity is based on weak scientific evidence,” he said.
In the U.S.: What could the year ahead look like?
When can people safely emerge from their homes? How long, realistically, before there is a coronavirus treatment or vaccine? How can the virus be kept at bay?
Some said that American ingenuity, once fully engaged, might produce advances to ease the burdens. Several saw a path forward that depends on factors that are difficult but possible: a carefully staggered approach to reopening, widespread coronavirus testing and tracking, a treatment that works, adequate resources for health care providers — and eventually an effective vaccine.
Even though limited human trials of three candidates — two here and one in China — have already begun, American officials have repeatedly said that any effort to make a vaccine will take at least a year to 18 months.
“My optimistic side says the virus will ease off in the summer and a vaccine will arrive like the cavalry,” one said. “But I’m learning to guard against my essentially optimistic nature.”
There are still so many unknowns, including the crucial question of how many silent carriers there are around the world, a question that could be answered only by widespread antibody testing. The C.D.C. has suggested it might be 25 percent of those who test positive. Researchers in Iceland said it might be double that.
The knowledge gaps are wide enough to make epidemiologists weep.
Bolsonaro encourages anti-quarantine protests in Brazil.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on Sunday enthusiastically addressed demonstrators in Brasília who demanded an end to business shutdowns and quarantine guidelines imposed by governors around the country.
The protest, one of several held across the country, included calls for the armed forces to shut down Congress and the Supreme Court and a return to military rule. Leaders in those branches of government have been highly critical of Mr. Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and broadly agree that quarantine measures are necessary to avert a public health calamity.
The president has played down the threat the virus poses to Brazilians and argues that the restrictions imposed in mid-March by most governors stand to be far more damaging to people’s livelihoods and their health than the virus. Last week, Mr. Bolsonaro fired his health minister, who had defended strict social isolation measures to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed by an influx of patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
As of Sunday, Brazil had 38,654 diagnosed coronavirus cases and 2,462 confirmed deaths.
Anti-quarantine caravans were also organized Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where Mr. Bolsonaro’s supporters drove around honking and waving Brazilian flags.
Former allies of Mr. Bolsonaro say he is endangering people’s lives by encouraging large gatherings of people.
“This increases the risk of mass infection and that the public health system will be unable to absorb the volume of patients, increasing the number of deaths,” Senator Sérgio Olímpio Gomes, who until recently was one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s strongest allies in Congress, said in a video his office released Sunday.
Mr. Bolsonaro has long hailed Brazil’s brutal 21-year military dictatorship as a golden era. But his unambiguous endorsement of protesters calling on the military to take full control of the government prompted vehement condemnations.
“It’s frightening to see demonstrations calling for the return of a military regime 30 years after democracy was restored,” Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso said in a statement. “Dictatorships come with violence against adversaries, censorship and intolerance. Good people who love Brazil do not want that.”
Leaders are eager to bring sports back, but the process proves difficult.
More than a month into the shutdown, impatience over the absence of sports is headed toward a boiling point, fed by dire economic nightmares among the leagues and a collective desperation from everyday fans and even famous ones — like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, part of President Trump’s coronavirus task force and a Washington Nationals fan, who recently mused on Snapchat about seeing athletes play again soon. The fans have clamored for something, anything, to distract from the pandemic.
The hurdles to any return are numerous, and they start with securing widespread testing and persuading players and officials to agree to strict confinement, among other conditions.
The complicated discussions that have intensified in the sports world, and within governments, illustrate a fight for survival amid a growing reckoning. In the past two decades, the American sports industrial complex has ballooned into a business that generates well over $71 billion annually, employing tens of thousands of people, from superstar athletes to hot dog vendors. Now, in less than two months, the system is on its way to losing billions of dollars as it faces more staggering blows with events shut down and threats of seasons lost.
While several leaders, including Mr. Trump, have embraced the idea of games broadcast live from a quarantined environment, most concede that even that would pose large challenges. And the prospect of fans actually going to a game — an activity Americans spend $19 billion on per year, according to the professional services network PwC — is far off in the future, perhaps even 2021.
David Stanley, 59, of Santa Monica, Calif., said he wanted to see the Los Angeles Rams in person again, but not before the outbreak had passed. “It will be very strange with no crowds at the games,” he said of joining a potential TV-only audience for the N.F.L. team he has loved since the 1980s. “But these are weird times, so what’s normal anymore?”
Zimbabwe is extending its lockdown for two weeks but letting mines reopen.
Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, extended a nationwide lockdown on Sunday for an additional two weeks but said that mines in the country could reopen, citing “the need to keep the economy running.”
The lockdown, which began on March 30, was supposed to end at midnight on Sunday. In a televised address from the statehouse in the country’s capital, Harare, Mr. Mnangagwa said that the extension was needed to choke the spread of the virus and “prepare for worse times which are lurking ahead.”
As of Sunday, Zimbabwe, with a population of about 16 million people, had conducted 2,226 tests, recording 25 cases and three deaths. Mr. Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe would need to increase its testing capacity before the lockdown could be lifted.
But faced with starvation amid spiraling food prices, some in Zimbabwe saw the extension in dark terms.
“I have no food now,” said Marian Gumbo, 46, who lives in Warren Park, a high density suburb in Harare. “I’m just a street vendor selling tomatoes and vegetables, and with the lockdown extended, it means my starvation with my family has also been extended.”
Mining is a big business in Zimbabwe, accounting for roughly 16 percent of the country’s G.D.P., according to the country’s mines ministry. But only some mines had been given permission to operate during the lockdown.
In Sunday’s announcement, Mr. Mnangagwa also said the “government is acutely aware of the need to keep the economy running, albeit at subdued levels.”
“With this objective in mind, government has decided to allow the mining sector to resume or scale up operations, even then within parameters set by the World Health Organization regarding social distancing and other public health safety measures,” Mr. Mnangagwa said.
Hardware stores and gardening shops in Belgium are reopening, with precautions.
Hardware stores and gardening shops in Belgium began reopening this weekend to, as Belgian officials put it, make a nationwide lockdown more manageable.
The country of more than 11 million people has reported some of the highest numbers in the world of coronavirus cases and deaths per capita. The overall number of cases has crossed 38,000, with more than 5,600 deaths.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the country’s prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, said the country would extend a nationwide lockdown — set to expire on Sunday — through May 3. The lockdown began on March 18, and bars, restaurants and other nonessential businesses remain closed.
But the country was letting the hardware stores and gardening shops reopen “in order to make the confinement conditions more sustainable for many of us,” Ms. Wilmès said.
Many such shops began reopening this weekend, attracting long queues of customers.
Still, Ms. Wilmès emphasized that the rules of the lockdown, including basic social distancing, “must be fully respected.”
“It’s not inconceivable that people will see these last decisions as a loosening of the basic rules,” she said. “We are not at the stage of a so-called return.”
Customers and staff in the reopened stores must follow strict security guidelines, including limitation of the number of customers per square meter and preference for noncash payments.
Ms. Wilmès said the country’s goal was to “organize a progressive loosening by the beginning of May.”
Politician’s funeral in Bangladesh draws 100,000, prompting fears of a new outbreak.
Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis ignored a nationwide lockdown on Saturday to attend the funeral of a Muslim political leader, prompting fears of a new outbreak in a country straining to contain the disease.
The Bangladeshi police said about 100,000 people had gathered in the town of Sarail without masks or other protective gear for the funeral of Maulana Jubayer Ahmed Ansari, a senior member of an Islamist party.
Alamgir Hossain, a police superintendent in the area, told the Dhaka Tribune that the authorities tried to get people to obey social distancing by blasting messages over loudspeakers, but that the situation soon became impossible to control.
The Bangladeshi police force suspended several senior officers in the district for failing to disperse the crowd.
Bangladesh imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 26 and banned more than five people from praying together in the country’s 300,000 mosques.
But enforcing the rules has been challenging in religious seminaries. Risks of a super spreader event are high in Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated nations, with more than 160 million people.
The country’s Health Ministry said the number of infections had risen to about 2,200 on Saturday, with 84 deaths, though the number of people tested remains low.
Shipment of much-needed protective gear to Britain is delayed.
As medical workers in Britain worry about a shortage of personal protective gear, officials announced that a shipment of 84 tons of equipment — including 400,000 protective gowns, was on its way from Turkey. But on Sunday, the government said that the flight was delayed.
The source of the delay was not immediately clear, but the Royal Air Force was “on standby” to transport the equipment, a government spokesman said in an email. “We are continuing to work to ensure the shipment is delivered as soon as possible.” The British broadcaster Sky News initially reported the delay.
Before the government confirmed the delay, Dr. Helena McKeown, chairwoman of the British Medical Association, told Sky News that the reported delay was “disastrous” and “devastating.” Asked if she would advise medical workers to refuse to work without protective equipment, she replied, “I would simply ask the government: What should my colleagues do?”
On Saturday, Robert Jenrick, the British housing minister, acknowledged the shortages during the daily government briefing, saying he recognized that it “must be an extremely anxious time for people working on the front line.”
Health care workers were advised to wear plastic aprons on top of their coveralls.
At least 15,464 people have died of the coronavirus in Britain, according to government figures published on Saturday.
In a Sunday Times of London report, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to have “sleepwalked” into a disastrous initial response to the coronavirus outbreak by missing five meetings of a government crisis committee. But Michael Gove, a member of Mr. Johnson’s leadership team, rejected the idea as “grotesque.”
The prime minister made all the major decisions, Mr. Gove told Sophy Ridge of Sky News on Sunday. “Nobody can say that the prime minister wasn’t throwing heart and soul into fighting this virus,” he said, adding that Mr. Johnson had been nothing other than “energetic, determined, focused and strong in his leadership.”
Mr. Johnson, who was hospitalized this month after contracting the virus, is still recuperating, but has had some contacts with officials, Mr. Jenrick said. “He’s resting and recuperating at Chequers,” Mr. Jenrick said, referring to the prime minister’s official country residence. “He’s taking his doctor’s advice.”
Here’s what else is happening around the world:
Norway is preparing for what officials call a “controlled” reopening, with many restrictions set to be lifted from Monday. The country was one of the first in Europe to roll out a government app to track infections, but it needs 50 percent of the population to use it to be effective. As of Saturday, 1.2 million people, over 25 percent of adults, had done so.
Denmark, which has seen a continuous decline in hospital admissions, will allow hair dressers, tattoo artists, massage therapists and other small businesses with relatively few costumers to reopen Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, urged Muslims worldwide to pray at home during the holy month of Ramadan if their countries have imposed distancing measures, the state news agency SPA reported on Sunday. “Remember that preserving the lives of people is a great act that brings them closer to God,” the council said. Ramadan is expected to begin in many places on Thursday.
Spain reported its lowest daily death toll in four weeks: 410 deaths overnight, a fall of 155 from the previous day. The Spanish government said on Saturday that it would extend the nationwide lockdown until at least May 9, but ease some restrictions for children starting April 27.
The biggest and busiest shopping district in Nairobi, Kenya, has been shut down for up to a week to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The district, Eastleigh, a regional trading hub that draws thousands of people each day, was quickly closed after two deaths and a rise in infections, said the area’s lawmaker, Yusuf Hassan, said. He said the government would use the temporary closure to increase testing and fumigate stalls and shops.
Russia’s coronavirus crisis response center reported a record rise of 6,060 new coronavirus cases over 24 hours, bringing its nationwide total to 42,853.
Orthodox Christians adapt for Easter services, but some defy lockdown rules.
Millions of Orthodox Christians in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are celebrating Easter, arguably the most important celebration on their calendar, under tight restrictions this weekend as the coronavirus pandemic has remolded their centuries-old traditions.
But the church in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has defied measures intended to stem the spread of the virus. Hundreds of worshipers gathered in churches despite the government’s declaration of a state of emergency and calls from bishops in various regions for believers to stay home, Reuters reported.
In television footage, some faithful could be seen kissing church icons and drinking from the same spoon during Communion. The Georgian prime minister has said that the government was trying to strike a balance: Churches have been kept open to help citizens meet their spiritual needs. But the authorities have steered clear of cracking down in the pews.
In Jerusalem, the Holy Fire ceremony was held in a near-empty church. Believers usually flock to see the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem come out of the Edicule, a shrine built where Christians believe Jesus was buried 2,000 years ago, holding candles lit by the flame. This year, most of the priests at the ceremony wore masks.
Many Orthodox Christians in Greece, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria and other countries could not attend the late-night services on Holy Saturday, since churches remained closed to the public. They instead turned to their TV sets to watch Resurrection services.
Bulgaria imposed a curfew on the capital, Sofia, in order to stop people from leaving the city for the Easter holiday, the BBC reported. The Greek government had for days been cautioning citizens not to travel across the country or gather in groups at home on Easter Sunday. Many citizens opted to roast the traditional lamb on their balconies.
“It’s unprecedented,” Costas Hatzopoulos, 54, an agronomist in Thessaloniki, said by phone this past week about the changes in observing the religious traditions. “But we will adapt to the provisions; we can’t do any other way.”
U.S. doubles down in condemnation of Hong Kong’s crackdown on activists.
The Trump administration on Saturday doubled down in its condemnation of a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and lawmakers in Hong Kong. The crackdown is widely seen as opportunistic given the city’s preoccupation with handling the coronavirus outbreak.
Attorney General William P. Barr conflated the arrests of the 14 Hong Kong democracy advocates — the biggest roundup since antigovernment protests began last year — with what he called “industrial espionage” by China’s ruling Communist Party against the United States.
“I condemn the latest assault on the rule of law and the liberty of the people of Hong Kong,” Mr. Barr said in a statement. “These events show how antithetical the values of the Chinese Communist Party are to those we share in Western liberal democracies. These actions — along with its malign influence activity and industrial espionage here in the United States — demonstrate once again that the Chinese Communist Party cannot be trusted.”
Mr. Barr’s remarks echoed an earlier statement by Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, who said Beijing had violated the agreements instituted in 1997 when the former British colony was returned to Chinese control with the promise that city would continue to “enjoy a high degree of autonomy.”
The high-profile arrests were made as Hong Kong battled to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which has helped quiet down the huge street protests but fueled further distrust of the authorities. The virus has halted protests around the world, forcing people to stay home and giving the authorities new laws for limiting public gatherings and detaining people with less fear of public blowback while many residents remained under lockdowns or with limits on their movement.
Malaysia is asked to stop turning away Rohingya refugees.
Human rights advocates are calling on Malaysia, which turned away at least two boats filled with Rohingya refugees, to reverse itself and start accepting the migrants.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement Saturday that Malaysia can be mindful of the coronavirus pandemic without endangering the lives of refugees as it responds to it.
On Thursday, the Malaysian navy intercepted a boat with 200 Rohingya refugees, and prevented it from entering Malaysian waters, according to The Associated Press. It’s unclear what happened to that boat.
The day before, the Bangladesh Coast Guard intercepted another boat with 382 refugees, who had been turned away from Malaysian waters weeks prior, survivors said. Although many of the refugees were removed from that boat, at least 30 people died before the rescue.
Malaysia’s National Security Council on Saturday defended its decision to turn away the boat over concerns the refugees would be exposed to the coronavirus. An official for the council said refugees were given food and fresh water before being turned away.
In March, Malaysia started banning the entry of foreign nationals to curb the outbreak in the country. Malaysia, a nation of more than 30 million people, has 5,251 confirmed cases with 86 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
“Malaysia’s claims to support the rights of the Rohingya mean shockingly little when they push desperate refugees back to sea,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
The pandemic has “intensified” the misery of the Rohingya, who are confined in Myanmar and in camps in Bangladesh, Mr. Robertson said, adding that the Malaysian government “can both protect against the spread of the virus and ensure that those risking their lives at sea are rescued and given a chance to seek asylum.”
Reporting was contributed by Raphael Minder, Jeffrey Gettleman, Ernesto Londoño, Liz Alderman, Constant Meheut, Joe Drape, Ken Belson, Billy Witz, Tyler Kepner, James Wagner, David Waldstein, Sopan Deb, Suhasini Raj, Mujib Mashal, Fahim Abed, Fatima Faizi, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Steve Eder, Megan Twohey, Apoorva Mandavilli, John Bartlett, Mihir Zaveri, Karen Zraick, Aurelien Breeden, Motoko Rich, Kai Schultz, Martin Selsoe Sorensen, Benjamin Mueller, Iliana Magra, Abdi Latif Dahir, Raphael Minder, Henrik Pryser Libell, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Mariel Padilla, Rebecca Chao, Russell Goldman, Anna Holland, Yonette Joseph, Austin Ramzy, Jeffrey Moyo and Monika Pronczuk.