Coronavirus latest updates: The death toll due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the United States crossed 50,000 on Friday, according to John Hopkins University. US President Donald Trump on Friday suggested that researchers should try to apply their findings to coronavirus patients by inserting ‘light or disinfectant’ into their bodies.
The theory comes amid shortage of testing kits and medical staff in the US, where nearly 50,000 people have been killed and over eight lakh people have been infected. The theory suggests that coronavirus could become less contagious in summer months as it appears to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight, heat and humidity.
Global infections have passed 2.7 million, with deaths standing at just under 191,000. The US leads the chart with 869,000 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The US also leads global deaths at 49,954. The next worst affected countries are Italy on 25,549 deaths, Spain on 22,157 and France on 21,856.
Here are updates on coronavirus from worldwide today:
Africa dangerously behind in global race for virus gear
As Africa braces for a surge in coronavirus cases, its countries are dangerously behind in the global race for scarce medical equipment. Ten nations have no ventilators at all.
Outbid by richer countries, and not receiving medical gear from top aid donor the United States, African officials scramble for solutions as virus cases climb past 25,000. Even in the best scenario, the United Nations says 74 million test kits and 30,000 ventilators will be needed by the continent’s 1.3 billion people this year. Very few are in hand.
“We are competing with the developed world,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The very future of the continent will depend on how this matter is handled. Politicians instinctively try to protect their own people and we know that sometimes the worst in human behaviour comes out,” said Simon Missiri, Africa director with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, urging an equitable approach to help developing nations.
US death toll crosses 50,000
The death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic in the US crossed the 50,000 mark on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the last 24 hours until Friday morning, as many as 3,176 people died from the coronavirus in the US, the university said. It is one of the highest recorded numbers of death anywhere in the world since the pandemic began in China’s Wuhan city last year. Globally, the COVID-19 cases exceeded 2.7 million, with more than 192,000 dead, the university said.
The US accounted for nearly a third of the total number of cases, exceeding 869,000, and over a quarter of the fatalities with 50,031, a sombre landmark for the country. America has been the worst affected country by the deadly coronavirus, which broke out in China’s Wuhan city last year.
In the US, more than 95 per cent of the country’s 330 million people are under stay-at-home order as a result of the social mitigation measures, including social distancing, being enforced till May 1. US President Donald Trump on Thursday indicated that the stay-at-home order might be extended beyond May 1, but vehemently advocated the need to gradually open up the economy.
Trump now suggests injecting disinfectants, bringing UV light ‘inside the body’
President Donald Trump has suggested the possibility of studying injecting disinfectants into COVID-19 patients or bringing UV light “inside” their bodies to kill the deadly virus, drawing immediate flak from American health experts who urged people not to listen to such “dangerous” advice. Launching a new scientific study conducted by his department, Homeland Security for Science and Technology Under Secretary Bill Bryan on Thursday said the coronavirus dies at a much more rapid pace when exposed to sunlight and humidity.
“The virus dies the quickest in direct sunlight. Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds,” he told White House reporters in the presence of President Trump at his daily briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the country. Bryan’s remarks left Trump wondering if there was a possibility of injecting the chemical into a person infected with COVID-19 as a deterrent to the virus.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute…And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that,” the US president told reporters at the press briefing.
NASA develops high-pressure ventilator to fight COVID-19
NASA engineers have developed a new, easy-to-build high-pressure ventilator tailored specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. The device, called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), passed a critical test this week at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, an epicentre of COVID-19 in the US, NASA said.
VITAL is designed to treat patients with milder symptoms, thereby keeping country’s limited supply of traditional ventilators available for patients with more severe COVID-19 symptoms, it said. “We specialise in spacecraft, not medical-device manufacturing,” said Michael Watkins, Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Pakistan’s coronavirus cases rise to 11,155; 79% cases locally transmitted
About 79 per cent of the total coronavirus cases in Pakistan are now locally transmitted, health authorities said on Friday as the number of people affected by the deadly virus rose to over 11,000. According to the Ministry of National Health Services, 13 more patients died due to the novel coronavirus, taking the toll to 237 and another 2,527 recovered.
In the last 24 hours, 642 new cases were reported, taking the tally to 11,155 in the country, health officials said on Friday. Punjab reported 4,767 patients, Sindh 3,671, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 1,541, Balochistan 607, Gilgit-Baltistan 300, Islamabad 214 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 55 patients. So far, 13,365 tests have been done in the country, including 6,839, during the last 24 hours. The confirmed cases are steadily increasing and the officials have warned that the peak would reach by the end of May or beginning of June.
Philippines extends capital’s lockdown to May 15
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the lockdown in the capital Manila until May 15 to curb coronavirus infections. Manila, a heavily congested city of at least 13 million people, accounts for more than two-thirds of the country’s 6,981 infections and 462 deaths.
US is very close to finding a vaccine for COVID-19, says Trump
“We are very close to testing… when testing starts it takes a period of time but we will get it done,” Trump said as he plans phased reopening of economy in the US. “Safe and phased reopening of our economy — it’s very exciting, but it does not mean that we are letting down our guard at all in any way; on the contrary, continued diligence is an essential part of our strategy to get our country back to work to take our country back,” he told reporters at his daily White House news conference on coronavirus.
The data and facts on the ground suggest that the US is making great progress, he said. In 23 states, new cases have declined. In the peak week, 40 per cent of the American counties have seen a rapid decline in new cases. As many as 46 states report a drop in patients showing coronavirus-like symptoms, he said.
11,000 deaths: Ravaged nursing homes in US plead for more testing
After two months and more than 11,000 deaths that have made the nation’s nursing homes some of the most terrifying places to be during the coronavirus crisis, most of them still don’t have access to enough tests to help control outbreaks among their frail, elderly residents. Neither the federal government nor the leader in nursing home deaths, New York, has mandated testing for all residents and staff. An industry group says only about a third of the 15,000 nursing homes in the US have ready access to tests that can help isolate the sick and stop the spread. And homes that do manage to get a hold of tests often rely on luck and contacts.
US plans to test migrants before deporting them
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to begin testing migrants in detention for COVID-19 before deporting them to other countries. ICE will acquire 2,000 testing kits per month from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to screen deportees, the official said, without mentioning the timing.
Very good call with @Medtronic Chairman & CEO @OmarIshrak and President @GeoffMartha. I thanked them for their outstanding efforts to increase production of ventilators for #COVID19 patients, not only using their own capacity but also through open source partnerships. pic.twitter.com/PUCfJljiWV
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) April 24, 2020
The move comes amid criticism from foreign governments about receiving migrants infected with the coronavirus. Guatemala said it would stop receiving deportees from the United States after at least 63 returning migrants tested positive for COVID-19, nearly a fifth of all the reported cases in the Central American country. President Alejandro Giammattei said last week the suspension would remain in place until the United States was able to certify people were being sent back virus-free.
Virus pushes US unemployment toward highest since Depression
Unemployment in the US is swelling to levels last seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with 1 in 6 American workers thrown out of a job, according to new data released Thursday. In response to the deepening economic crisis, the House passed a nearly $500 billion spending package to help buckled businesses and hospitals. More than 4.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the government reported. In all, roughly 26 million people _ the population of the 10 biggest US cities combined _ have now filed for jobless aid in five weeks, an epic collapse that has raised the stakes in the debate over how and when to ease the shutdowns of factories and other businesses.
South Korea begins export of masks
South Korea says it will send one million face masks to foreign veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War as it expands efforts to help other countries deal with the coronavirus epidemics while its own caseload slows. South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun during a meeting on Friday said the country could send more masks overseas at a level that doesn’t disrupt domestic supply. South Korea since early March has banned the exports of masks and channeled most domestically produced masks to pharmacies, where people have been limited to buying two masks per week.
The nationwide rationing program was a drastic attempt at calming public anger over shortages and reduce hour-longs lines that formed in stores across the country in previous weeks as infections soared. But Chung said supply has stabilized and that the government will increase the weekly allowance to three masks from next week. South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported six more cases but no new deaths, bringing national totals to 10,703 and 240 fatalities.
Dubai relaxes lockdown measures
Dubai has become the latest city to ease lockdown restrictions, announcing that cafes, restaurants and shopping malls are to reopen with a maximum capacity of 30%. Public transportation services, including the subway, will resume from 26 April.
40 more people test positive in ship docked in Nagasaki
About 40 more crew of an Italian cruise ship docked in Nagasaki, southwestern Japan, have tested positive for the coronavirus, public broadcaster NHK reported on Friday, bringing the total to about 90. The Costa Atlantica was taken into a shipyard in Nagasaki in late February after the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled plans for scheduled repairs in China. Nagasaki officials have said they hoped to complete testing of all 623 crew soon.