US briefing: Wuhan warning, Jared Kushner steps in and joblessness soars

Tim Walker
Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

China seeks to lead amid talk of 10m potential global cases

Residents of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the Covid-19 pandemic began, have been told to stay indoors and remain vigilant ahead of an easing of travel restrictions. Meanwhile, Beijing is stepping up a media campaign in the west to frame its handling of the disease as an example of global leadership. The country’s Covid-19 statistics have been called into question, but on Thursday China recorded just 31 new cases, 29 of them in people arriving from other countries.

  • Case numbers. With confirmed global cases passing one million, Australia’s chief medical officer has suggested the true number of those infected could be five to 10 times higher.

  • Commuted sentence. In Japan, the lockdown has had at least one unexpected benefit: traditionally overworked employees are discovering a new work-life balance, reports Justin McCurry.

  • Prince Charles. After recently recovering from Covid-19 himself, the Prince of Wales is set to appear via videolink to open London’s new Nightingale hospital, a convention centre repurposed as a 500-bed coronavirus treatment facility.

Kushner takes centre stage as New York begs for ventilators

Donald Trump invited his son-in-law Jared Kushner to the podium at his daily press briefing on Thursday, as he again sought to blame individual states for their lack of pandemic preparedness. Kushner said the president had asked him to “think outside the box” about how to tackle the crisis. Meanwhile, reports emerged that American buyers offering wads of cash had managed to divert to the US a planeful of protective masks as it was on the tarmac at a Shanghai airport about to depart for France.

Economy in uncharted territory with 6.65m new unemployed

The pandemic’s unprecedented destruction of the US economy is deepening, with 6.65 million more people filing for unemployment last week. And many who remain in work are fearful, too. Delivery apps may be thriving in the crisis, but Susie Cagle asks whether they’re doing so at the expense of the restaurants whose food they serve. Amazon executives described a fired employee who organised a walkout over coronavirus concerns as “not smart or articulate” in a meeting with the boss, Jeff Bezos, according to a leaked memo.

‘Privacy disaster’: Zoom to focus on safety and security

The video-conferencing platform Zoom, which has become invaluable to many remote workers during the lockdown, has said its engineers will focus on security and safety concerns after experts described the app as a “privacy disaster”. Zoom has seen a 535% rise in traffic over the past month, but its CEO, Eric Yuan, apologised in a blogpost on Thursday, admitting: “We have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations.”

Cheat sheet

  • Twitter has deleted 20,000 of what it says were fake accounts linked to the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Serbia, Honduras and Indonesia, describing them as a “targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation”.

  • Iran’s leadership has responded with exasperation to Trump’s claims that its proxies planned to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis with attacks on US bases in Iraq.

  • Canadian police have arrested a 31-year-old man suspected of the murders of two Indigenous men who were shot dead on a country road in rural Alberta a week ago.

  • Researchers have unearthed the earliest known skull of a human ancestor, homo erectus, in South Africa. Dated to 2m years ago, the find suggests the first of our forebears existed up to 200,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Must-reads

Dua Lipa provides a welcome disco distraction

Dua Lipa’s new LP was supposed to land this Friday, but instead it was released early into a world on lockdown. She tells Laura Snapes how she conquered the pop universe, and dealt with media hostility: “You have to be made out of steel to not let words get to you.”

Netflix smash Tiger King: what happened next?

The bizarre documentary series Tiger King, about warring big cat owners, has been a massive hit on Netflix. Adrian Horton finds out what has happened since the cameras stopped rolling: internet stardom, a host of celebrity fans and a reawakened legal case.

The Cuomos’ brotherly love

One is New York’s governor, the other a CNN anchor battling Covid-19. And as Poppy Noor writes, the candid, caustic but affectionate sparring matches between brothers Andrew and Chris Cuomo is just the balm news viewers need in these troubled times.

Simple, staple recipes for lockdown

The vegetarian cook Anna Jones has gone through her kitchen cupboards to produce 10 simple recipes to make with ingredients that ought to be available despite the lockdown. We should all emerge from isolation as better cooks, she says.

Opinion

Behind the scenes at the White House, Jared Kushner has reportedly bragged about his own coronavirus expertise and accused the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, of being “alarmist”. The princeling is putting American lives on the line, says Lloyd Green.

If Kushner weren’t married to the boss’s daughter he would not be anywhere near the Oval Office. But Trump treats the presidency like a family business.

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