Live Blog - 23 April 2020
23 April 2020

Our live blog on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world is on every day from 1200-1600 Central European Summer Time (equivalent to 1400-1800 in Tbilisi and Dubai).

This blog is compiled by our team of journalists and researchers based in The Hague in the Netherlands and in Tbilisi, Georgia, working with partners and associates in a number of different countries. You can also follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU. We are happy to hear from you wherever you are. Please send us your comments, stories and suggestions by email to

This live blog has been running daily since 19 March. You can read earlier blogs here


Thursday, 23 April 2020

1600 CEST (1800 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We are now pausing this blog for today.

In many Muslim communities this evening marks the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak to all our Muslim readers who are fasting. May it be for you a month of peace and refelection.

We will be back tomorrow Friday, 24 April 2020 at 1200 CEST (1400 in Tbilisi and Dubai)

Till then from our team in The Hague, and in Tbilisi, a good evening.

Be Safe! Be Healthy! Be Happy!



1545 CEST (1745 Tbilisi/Dubai) .

 The Netherlands

The death toll in the Netherlands has risen by 123 in the past 24 hours, reaching 4,177, officials say.

The country's Institute for Public Health (RIVM) says the number of infections increased by 887 to 35,729


15.20 CEST (1720 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Let's go to a museum, on line!

It is time for our wellness moment of the day - a time when we invite you to take your mind off the pandemic and its deaths and focus on something positive. Today we are inviting you to visit a museum. 
William Murray looks at what museums and galleries have to offer online during the crisis and how best to support them in this piece for

read it here

1505 CEST (1705 Tbilisi/Dubai)


Iran is one of the first Middle Easter countries to have been affected by covid-19. So far it has reported 87,026 cases - which is more than China. The number of deaths 5,481 deaths, which is also more than China, and also more than Turkey.

In Iran the pandemic is playing out under the shadow of the country's stand-off with the United States, amid reports of tense situations developing in the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz.

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, blasted Iran for its behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic.  "While they (Iran) are telling the world, they are broke and don't have any money, they continue to underwrite the butcherous activities of the Assad regime," Pompeo said.

In the meantime President Trump tweeted that he had ordered Navy ships to attack any Iranian vessels that threaten US Ships.

This has provoked a blook curling response from Tehran. The Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps(IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami this morning warned US forces against any wrong move:

"We tell the Americans that we are fully determined and serious in defending our national security, water borders, security of the shipping and our defense forces' security and will respond to any act of sabotage firmly," General Salami said after visiting the IRGC forces stationed on the Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

"We have ordered our naval units to target any vessel or combat unit of the terrorist US forces who want to threaten the security of our non-combat ships or combat vessels," he added.


1415 CEST (1615 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We now have updates from across Europe prepared for us by Maximiliaan van Lange, a member of our research team.


In Belgium, for the first time in a while, less than 1,000 Covid-19 patients were diagnosed. The National Crisis Centre of Belgium currently reports 993 patients in intensive care, a decrease of 27 compared to yesterday (22 April).

On Thursday (23 April), the authorities reported 230 new deaths by Covid-19. The total number of deaths has risen to 6,490. 4,527 Belgians with Covid-19 are still in hospital, 238 less than on Wednesday.


Spanish authorities report 440 new deaths by Covid-19 on Thursday (23 April). However, not all deaths occurred in the same period, because reports are often passed on later. In total, Covid-19 killed 22,157 people in Spain. According to official figures, the virus has been diagnosed in 213,024 Spaniards.


In France, lockdown measures led to an increase in child abuse in the country. Figures from the Ministry of the Interior show an increase in reports of child abuse. The emergency line number was called 14,531 times last week. This is 89 per cent more often than in the same week a year earlier.


According to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany is still at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Merkel argues for more international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. Germany remains under strict measures, and Germans are not yet able to go back to a normal life, according to Merkel. Merkel also said that it is uncertain how significant the economic consequences will be for the country.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number of Covid-19 infections in Germany has increased by 2,352 patients. As a result, the number of total infections recorded has risen to 148,046 patients. This is the third day in a row that the number of patients has increased. The number of deaths due to Covid-19 increased by 215 to 5,094.

This week, Germany announced that the so-called reproduction number of the virus also increased from 0.8 to 0.9. An average German Covid-19 patient infected 0.8 people earlier, and this was 0.9 at the beginning of this week. The cause of this is as yet unknown.

 The Netherlands

In the Netherlands there is unrest among prisoners in the detention centre at Schiphol Airport. Prisoners are worried about the number of Covid-19 infections in prison. Six prisoners are currently infected with Covid-19, and a seventh is currently being tested. They are alsop complaining that most of the guards in prison do not keep a meter and a half distance, they do not wear mouth caps and gloves.
Also, the law courts in the Netherlands will reopen on 11 May. Suspects and other trial parties will be allowed limited access to courthouses as of this date. Notification will relate to lawsuits in which the presence of the parties involved is considered indispensable. Criminal cases, juvenile (criminal) cases, and family cases will have priority.


The city of Milan seizes the opportunity of the Covid-19 pandemic to turn motorways into cycle paths. The city is known in Europe as one of the most polluted cities on the continent. Because of the pandemic, the streets of Milan are empty so that the work could start.

It is also reported that the death toll in Italy is also probably 10,000 higher than expected. There are currently around 25,000 deaths registered in Italy due to Covid-19, but scientists think that the number of deaths in Italy directly or indirectly due to Covid-19 is higher. Especially in the worst affected region of Lombardy, the death toll is probably 7,000 higher than according to the official figures of 12.740 deaths.


1350 CEST (1450 Tbilisi/Dubai)


We have an update now from our liaison team in Tbilisi. The leader of one of the political movements "Girchi" has been arrested for trying to organise a rally despite the state of emergency. "Girchi" is a sort of alternative movement which normally campaigns on social issues.

This morning Girchi's leader, Zurab Japaridze, started a rally at Tbilisi hippodrome demanding the abolition of the state of emergency.

Police detained him and several other protesters. Police have allegedly charged the detainees with hooliganism and disobedience to law enforcement officers.

Picture below is a screengrab from Netgazeti video

1315 CEST (1515 Tbilisi/Dubai)

The blame game

There are so many questions being asked about who is to blame for the pandemic. It may be too early for these kind of questions, and most of the answers appear to be based either on prejudice or on wishful thinking.

  China is at the centre of this polemic, as much as it is of the pandemic.

This morning the Chinese Ambassador to the UK talked to the BBC. Here is his take:

China's ambassador to the UK says coronavirus "does not discriminate between races" and "blaming and scapegoating is futile" in the face of the current crisis.

Last month, US President Donald Trump was criticised for describing Covid-19 as the "Chinese virus".

Speaking at a news conference in London, Liu Xiaoming says: "Arrogance and insolence will only poison the cooperation between countries.

"It is against the human conscience to deliberately put various labels on a specific regime, and stigmatise a specific country.

"Such a move will only drive a wedge between countries, undermine international cooperation and harm the interests of all mankind."


1245 CEST (1445 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Ramadan Messages

Many world leaders are issuing messages on the occasion of the month of Ramadan, which is a holy month for Muslims worldwide

Among them is the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Gutteres.

Here is his message:

I extend my warmest wishes as millions of Muslims around the world begin observing the holy month of Ramadan.

This will, of course, be a very different Ramadan. Many community activities will naturally be affected by measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many people in conflict zones will once again be tragically marking this month with war and insecurity all around.

I recently called for an immediate global ceasefire to focus on our common enemy — the virus. I repeat that appeal today, recalling the words of the Holy Quran “and if they incline to peace, then incline to it”.

Ramadan is also about supporting the most vulnerable. I thank governments and people throughout the Muslim world who live by their faith, supporting those fleeing conflict in the best Islamic tradition of hospitality and generosity — a remarkable lesson in this world where so many doors have been closed to those in need of protection, even before COVID-19.

Once again, my best wishes to all for mercy, solidarity and compassion in these trying times.


1230 CEST (1430 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We now have some updates from across the Caucasus Region


The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) confirmed that the US foreign aid will be adjusted to the priority needs in the midst of this pandemic.

"We welcome, as a first step, our Department of State's confirmation that the U.S. The Embassy in Yerevan is open to adjusting the existing U.S. aid program to help Armenia meet its urgent priorities related to the COVID-19 crisis," said ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian.

"The ANCA looks forward to learning more about how these repurposed funds can be smartly allocated to help Armenia deal with this health emergency and its economic aftermath," Hamparian added.

There is an estimated $25 million package approved by the US Congress as an assistance to Armenia which will now be redirected to assist the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic.


The Azerbaijani news agency APA has reported that the police have busted an illegal cafe that was operating in violation of the current restrictions on social isolation.The cafe was located in the Sabail district I.

When police raided the cafe they found the owner S.Isayev and 9 customers. They were all fined 200 manats for violating the special quarantine rules.


The latest data from Georgia shows that the number of covid 19 cases is now 420 and there have been five deaths.


The Health Minister of the de facto authorities of Abkhazia, Tamaz Tsakhnakiya, said that the next month would be the most difficult in the fight against coronavirus. Only 3 have been infected so far in the territory, with one recovering.

The Minister says that the first recovery is not a sign for things to be relaxed.



1215 CEST (1415 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We start with an update from the Gulf from Noman Ahmed of our research team

 United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Abu Dhabi is set to resume its public transport system on Saturday. The Department of Municipalities and Transport will carry out a 48-hour disinfection program of public buses, state news agency WAM reported.

The authorities are also considered opening shopping malls as the country gets ready for an increase in economic activity. However, all measures are being discussed with health officials to ensure appropriate health and safety guidelines. 

The UAE has confirmed 8238 infections with 52 deaths and 1546 recoveries. 


Good day and welcome to this live blog on

It is Thursday, 23 April 2020 – 12 noon Central European Summer Time, equivalent to 14.00 in Tbilisi and Dubai.

For millions of Muslims around the world this evening marks the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan – a month of fasting and reflection. Our cover page today shows the Kaaba in Mecca – a holy place for Muslims where millions normally congregate to pray. These days it is empty due to the pandemic. Muslims have been advised to pray at home.