The global death toll due to the coronavirus crossed 102,800 on Saturday as the number of cases rose to nearly 1,700,000, according to a tally by John Hopkins University. Nearly 70 percent of the global infections were reported from the hard hit continent of Europe.
Meanwhile, the United States saw its biggest daily increase till date with more than 2,100 deaths, becoming the world’s first country to register such a staggering number of fatalities in 24 hours. The US is not far from overtaking Italy with the highest number of deaths — Italy has so far reported 18,884 deaths against the US’ 18,679.
The number of infections in the US (500,399) exceeds the total number of cases in the next four worst affected nations — Spain (158,000), Italy (147,000), Germany (122,000) and France (112,000).
In China, the government reported three fresh deaths and 46 additional cases in the last 24 hours. This presents a decline in the number of new daily cases in the country allowing the Chinese government to reopen its factories and stores. China reported 3,339 deaths and more than 81,000 confirmed cases till Friday midnight.
A number of public health officials and religious leaders have urged people to stay in their homes and continue to follow social distancing and lockdown measures as the Easter Sunday approaches.
Iran begins lifting restrictions after brief virus lockdown
Iran began reopening government offices Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country. Authorities had ordered most government agencies and all non-essential businesses to remain closed for a week after the Nowruz holiday ended on April 4.
Government offices outside the capital, Tehran, reopened Saturday with two-thirds of employees coming in and the remainder working from home, state media reported. Women who have young children were given priority in deciding who works remotely. Businesses outside the capital were also allowed to reopen Saturday, the first day of the work week.
Businesses in Tehran will be allowed to reopen next Saturday, provided they register with authorities and follow guidelines on social distancing set out by the Health Ministry. Government offices in the capital will reopen with two-thirds of employees coming in and the rest working remotely. The ministry meanwhile reported another 125 deaths, bringing the overall toll to 4,357. The country has reported more than 70,000 confirmed cases, and authorities say more than 40,000 have recovered.
African community targeted in China virus crackdown
Africans in southern China’s largest city say they have become targets of suspicion and subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass coronavirus testing as the country steps up its fight against imported infections. China says it has largely curbed its COVID-19 outbreak but a recent cluster of cases linked to the Nigerian community in Guangzhou sparked the alleged discrimination by locals and virus prevention officials.
Local authorities in the industrial centre of 15 million said at least eight people diagnosed with the illness had spent time in the city’s Yuexiu district, known as “Little Africa”.
Five were Nigerian nationals who faced widespread anger after reports surfaced that they had broken a mandatory quarantine and been to eight restaurants and other public places instead of staying home. As a result, nearly 2,000 people they came into contact with had to be tested for COVID-19 or undergo quarantine, state media said.
US reports record number of single-day cases as economy heads for recession
The US has become the world’s first country to have registered more than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths in a single day with 2,108 fatalities. The number of infections in the country crossed 5,00,000, the highest in the world.
By Friday night more than 2,108 Americans had died due to the novel coronavirus and 500,399 people had tested positive with the dreaded disease, John Hopkins University said.
New York, which has emerged as the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak in the US, has registered over 1.7 lakh positive cases. New Jersey, the second most affected state, has nearly 2,000 deaths and more than 54,000 confirmed cases.
In other news, President Donald Trump has announced new visa sanctions and visa denials to citizens of countries that are “denying or unreasonably delaying” the repatriation of their nationals from the US during the pandemic. The President issued a memorandum for visa sanctions which would be effective immediately and valid till December 21, 2020. Addressing the Homeland Security Secretary and Secretary of State, Trump said the US must be able to effectuate the repatriation of foreign nationals who violate the laws of the United States.
Experts predict the American economy is headed for a recession.
WHO warns against hasty lifting of restrictions
A hasty lifting of restrictions imposed to control the pandemic could lead to a “deadly resurgence” of the new coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. “I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone,” ‘WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said through a virtual press conference in Geneva.
“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.” he added, pointing out that the organisation is working with member states to deal with the consequences of lockdowns.
UN Chief urges states to put women and girls at the centre of COVID-19 recovery efforts
UN Secretary General General Antonio Guterres urged world governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. “I urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to recover from COVID-19. That starts with women as leaders, with equal representation and decision-making power,” Guterres said.
His comments were a part of a larger policy brief that details how the coronavirus crisis is deeping pre-existing inequalities in men and women along with having profound ramifications on the lives of women. “Gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together, to recovering faster, and to building a better future for everyone,” he said.
Mainland China reports 46 new cases
As authorities try to head off a second wave of infections, China reported a rise in new coronavirus cases on Saturday. The National Health Commission said 46 new cases were reported on Friday, including 42 involving travellers from abroad, up from 42 cases a day earlier. Out of these 34 cases came from asymptomatic people.
French patients on HCQ report heart incidents
A drug that is being endorsed by President Trump to treat COVID-19 patients has led to at least 43 heart incidents in France. Hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, has been repeatedly called a “game changer” in the COVID-19 battle by the US President.
France has reportedly recorded about 100 health incidents and four deaths linked to experimental drugs being administered to coronavirus patients. At least 82 of these incidents were “serious”.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro defies social distancing protocol
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took to streets where crowds and a number of his followers came to greet him. This was the president’s latest defiance of social distancing norms after he said that isolation measures were an unnecessary drag on the economy.
The lockdown imposed in Brazil’s vulnerable cities has started to wear off as more and more people are seen on the streets. The country has 19,638 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deaths as of Friday.
South Korea introduces stricter methods to deal with quarantine violators
South Korea announced Saturday that it would strap tracking wristbands on people who disobey quarantine orders given by the state. The republic also urged Christians to stay at home on Easter Sunday. The need to introduce stricter controls stems from people stepping out of their houses despite warnings. Some of the 57,000 people who have been ordered to stay in home quarantine have slipped out by leaving behind their smartphones that had their tracking devices.
Uruguay evacuates 112 Australians, New Zealanders from ship
The South American country has evacuated more than 100 citizens from Australia and New Zealand from a cruise ship that was anchored off its coast since March 27, with at least 50 per cent of its passengers and crew members infected with the coronavirus. The evacuees are scheduled to depart Saturday morning.
At least six Americans, five British citizens and 83 crew member among others are still stuck on board.
With no access to aid, Sub-Saharan Africa under threat
The coronavirus pandemic has increased the vulnerability of a continent already facing a volley of crisis. Desperately needed aid, for millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa is coming under threat due to the coronavirus scare. Border lockdowns and social distancing measures are preventing aid distribution services to carry on with their work.
The UN has launched a $2 billion response plan to deal with the pandemic, much of which is earmarked for the African continent.
Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?
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