Covid-19 wrap | UK to review easing of lockdown, German police target suspected Islamists over virus fraud, Duterte urged to free jailed senator

UK to review easing of virus lockdown          

Government was on
Thursday reviewing lockdown measures introduced to combat the coronavirus
outbreak, with a partial easing expected to be announced this weekend.

Prime Minister
Boris Johnson meets Cabinet colleagues, with predictions that unlimited exercise
and picnics will soon be allowed as part of the first step of easing

“We’ll want if
we possibly can to get going with some of these measures on Monday. I think it
would be a good thing if people had an idea of what is coming,” he said on

Pubs and cafes with
gardens may also be allowed to open but people would be required to remain two
metres apart.


German police target suspected Islamists over virus fraud           

police on Thursday raided apartments belonging to several suspected Islamists
in Berlin, over allegations they fraudulently obtained state payouts set up for
the coronavirus crisis.

Officers searched the homes
and vehicles of five people “belonging to the Salafist scene”, police
said in a statement.

group is believed to have “acquired in a fraudulent manner economic aid
offered by the city of Berlin” to cushion the impact of the coronavirus
pandemic, prosecutors said.

Sums of between 50 000 and 60
000 euros were involved, Tagesspiegel reported citing sources close to the


Duterte urged to free jailed senator amid coronavirus lockdown

group of parliamentarians from Southeast Asia have urged Philippine President
Rodrigo Duterte to immediately order the release of an opposition senator amid
the coronavirus lockdown, as they joined rights groups in denouncing the
decision to exclude the jailed legislator from the Senate’s ongoing online

Senator Leila de Lima has
been in jail since her arrest in February 2017 on charges related to drug
trafficking – allegations that she and her supporters believe are politically
motivated and aimed at silencing one of the president’s most outspoken critics.

In a
statement issued on Thursday, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
said that de Lima and all political and human rights activists should be
prioritised for release while the country struggles to contain the spread of
the coronavirus

“At a time when the
priority is to urgently decrease the prison population to stem Covid-19
pandemic, what is Senator de Lima still doing behind bars?” Charles Santiago,
a member of the Malaysian parliament and APHR chairperson, said, adding all
charges against de Lima should also be dropped without conditions.


to begin withdrawing military virus experts from Italy 

on Thursday begins withdrawing military experts and medics sent to Italy during
the height of the coronavirus pandemic as part of an aid effort that critics
said carried political overtones.

“We will begin the
pullout of radiation, chemical and biological protection units from
Italy,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting of military
leaders on Wednesday.

He said the military would
host a ceremony to mark their return and asked for “proposals for the
promotion of distinguished military personnel, doctors and all those who were
involved in disinfection in cities and facilities in Italy”.

Russia has sent military
planes with specialists and equipment to countries including Italy, China and
the United States, gestures that have prompted criticism from some Russians
over using crucial resources for geopolitical aims.


Mauritania eases pandemic restrictions

The West African desert state of Mauritania has scaled back two-month-old restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, notably allowing markets and prayer gatherings to resume.

The government will “progressively ease preventative measures”, an official announcement late on Wednesday said.

Markets will be allowed to reopen from Thursday and group prayers from Friday, while a nightly curfew is being reduced by two hours, running from 23:00 to 06:00.

Mauritania has recorded eight confirmed cases of coronavirus, one of which was fatal.