Over 2.79 million are known to have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 195,920 people are confirmed to have died worldwide. Among the worst-hit countries, the United States reported over nine lakh infections and more than 51,000 fatalities. New York accounted for the largest number of deaths (17,671), and 271,890 cases.
In terms of cases, Italy had the second highest at 25,969, followed by Spain (22,524), France (22,245), and the UK (19,506).
“No evidence” that recovered COVID-19 patients cannot be reinfected: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that there was currently “no evidence” that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second coronavirus infection.In a scientific brief, the United Nations agency warned governments against issuing “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to people who have been infected as their accuracy could not be guaranteed.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) April 25, 2020
The practice could actually increase the risks of continued spread as people who have recovered may ignore advice about taking standard precautions against the virus, it said.
“Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate’ that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection,” the WHO said. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” it said.
Italy to ease lockdown on May 4
Italy will start distributing free protective masks to nursing homes, many of which have been devastated by coronavirus infections and deaths. Domenico Arcuri, the government’s commissioner for the pandemic, says doing so is a “gesture of solidarity and nearness and support to these places ever more at the epicenter of this great crisis.”
Arcuri says free masks also will be distributed to public officials, transport workers and police. Millions of Italians will be allowed to return to workplaces starting on May 4, when lockdown restrictions will be considerably eased.
Italy, with some 26,000 reported deaths, most of them of elderly persons, has Europe’s highest toll from COVID-19. In Lombardy, Italy’s most stricken region, prosecutors are investigating about two dozen homes, including one in Milan where some 200 residents died.
Brazil ‘super minister’ quits in Bolsonaro’s worst crisis yet
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro suffered the heaviest blow to his presidency so far as his popular justice minister quit on Friday and accused him of potentially criminal meddling in law enforcement, adding to the turmoil of a government struggling to confront a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak.
Sergio Moro, who won broad public support for jailing corrupt politicians and businessmen as a judge, said he was resigning because Bolsonaro fired federal police chief Mauricio Valeixo for personal and political reasons. The shocking exit and allegations from the so-called ‘super minister’ were a hammer blow for Bolsonaro, whose popularity had already slumped for downplaying the pandemic that has killed more than 3,600 Brazilians and shows signs of worsening.
Bolsonaro called Moro’s accusations “baseless,” denying he had interfered in investigations and insisting that he had the authority to replace federal police officials. “The appointment is mine, the prerogative is mine and the day I have to submit to any of my subordinates I cease to be president of the republic,” Bolsonaro said in a public address
China reports increasing number of imported cases despite restrictions
China’s northwestern province of Shaanxi Saturday reported seven new imported cases of coronavirus, all in citizens returning home from Russia. The port city of Manzhouli in Inner Mongolia also reported three new imported cases. Despite restrictions in the country, China has been facing a rise in cases brought in by its citizens returning from abroad.
The total number of confirmed cases in China, where the virus first emerged in late December, is now 82,816. The death toll remained at 4,632.
New York reports lowest deaths in weeks
New York reported its lowest number of daily Covid-19 deaths in weeks. The state said there were 422 deaths on Thursday – the fewest since 31 March when it recorded 391 deaths. But it was still devastating news, the governor, Andrew Cuomo, said at his daily briefing. The total number of people hospitalised statewide continued to drop slowly, hitting 14,258. More than 16,000 people have died in the state from the outbreak.
New Covid-19 cases overwhelming hospitals, morgues and cemeteries across Brazil
As Brazil nears becoming one of the world’s coronavirus hotspots, the country’s hospitals, morgues and cemeteries are struggling to keep up with the brimming patients and bodies. Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse or already too overwhelmed to take any more patients.
Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has shown no sign of wavering from his insistence that COVID-19 is a relatively minor disease and that broad social-distancing measures are not needed to stop it. He has said only Brazilians at high risk should be isolated.
In Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon, officials said a cemetery has been forced to dig mass graves because there have been so many deaths. Workers have been burying 100 corpses a day triple the pre-virus average of burials.
So far, the health ministry has confirmed nearly 53,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 3,600 deaths. By official counts, the country had its worst day yet on Thursday, with about 3,700 new cases and more than 400 deaths, and Friday was nearly as grim.
UK to start plasma trials of recovered Covid-19 patients
Britain is set to start trials to see whether plasma collected from donors who have recovered from Covid-19 could be an effective treatment for patients who are currently infected by the novel coronavirus. The Health Department Saturday said that up to 50,000 severely ill patients each week could be treated by this therapy. (Don’t miss from Explained: What is plasma therapy?)
Plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients can be transfused to patients who are struggling to produce their own antibodies against the virus. Convalescent plasma was used as an effective treatment during the 2002 to 2004 SARS outbreak, the health department said.
The collection of plasma would be ramped up over April and May to deliver up to 10,000 units to the National Health Service (NHS) every week, enough to treat 5,000 Covid-19 patients per week.
“I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease,” said Health Minister Matt Hancock. “The UK is leading the world’s largest trials to find a treatment for Covid-19, with over 7,000 people so far involved testing a range of medicines; we hope to add convalescent plasma to this list shortly.:
Indians, ethnic minority medics in UK at high risk from Covid-19
Medical and healthcare professionals from Indian and minority ethnic backgrounds fall into a higher risk category of contracting the coronavirus in the UK, a first-of-its-kind survey among medics in the country concluded.
The Research and Innovation Forum of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) conducted the week-long online survey between April 14 and 21 to determine risk factors and emerging concerns within healthcare professionals.
“This is the largest survey of its kind that involves BAME healthcare workers from all backgrounds. And the results are no surprise, that being of BAME background is a major risk factor for contracting the virus,” said Dr Indranil Chakravorty, Chair of the BAPIO Research and Innovation Forum.
Of those surveyed, 86 per cent were from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, with South Asians forming the bulk of the sample at 75 per cent.
Sri Lanka reimposes 24-hour nationwide curfew
Sri Lanka has reimposed a countrywide 24-hour curfew till Monday after a surge in the number of coronavirus cases, most of which were navy sailors. The highest single-day increase in infections were reported in the country on Friday (46) taking the total number to 420 with seven deaths.
Earlier this week, Sri Lanka had partially lifted a month long curfew during daytime hours in more than two-thirds of the country. Police have arrested more than 30,000 violators of the curfew.
White House could alter virus briefings to limit Trump’s role
There have been discussions within the White House about changing the format of the daily briefings to curtail President Donald Trump’s role. The briefings often stretch well beyond an hour and feature combative exchanges between the President and reporters. Advisers have been urging Trump to scale back his appearances at the briefings saying that he should come before the cameras only when there is major news.
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FDA warns against the side effect of Hydroxychloroquine
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a safety communication regarding the known side effects of the anti-malaria drug, Hydroxychloroquine, repeatedly touted by President Trump as a “game changer” for treating the coronavirus. The FDA said that the drug has been given ‘Emergency Use Authorization’ for the treatment of patients. The side effects included serious and potentially life threatening heart rhythm problems.
“We understand that health care professionals are looking for every possible treatment option for their patients and we want to ensure we’re providing them with the appropriate information needed for them to make the best medical decisions,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M Hahn.
“While clinical trials are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of these drugs for Covid-19, there are known side effects of these medications that should be considered,”he added.
The FDA also approved the first at home Covid-19 test kit which is expected to bring the testing at the doorsteps of every household. The test kit developed by the US company LabCorp costs $119.
60 new Covid-19 cases confirmed on a Japanese cruise ship
Nearly 60 people tested positive on an Italian cruise ship docked in Japan Saturday. The total number of positive cases on the Costa Atlanta cruise touched 150 after all crew members were tested. The infection cluster onboard the vessel docked in Nagasaki comes as hospitals are running out of beds in some parts of Japan, where the national tally of virus cases has risen above 12,800. Some 345 people have died.
The vessel has been docked in Japan since February for repairs and maintenance after the pandemic prevented scheduled repairs in China. Japanese authorities had quarantined the cruise ship on arrival, and ordered its crew not to venture beyond the quay except for hospital visits.
Mexican auto factories to reopen with coronavirus safeguards
The mexican government plans to reopen its automotive factories through a plan that would be released in the coming days. The foreign relations department assured that health safeguards would be in place and the reopening would be “orderly, gradual and cautious”.
The announcement came three days after the US government launched a campaign to get Mexico to reopen plants suggesting the supply chain of the North American free trade zone could be permanently affected if they didn’t resume production.
South Korea is flattening the curve with no new coronavirus deaths for the second day in a row
South Korea has reported 10 fresh cases of the new coronavirus, the eighth day in a row that its daily case count was below 20. The outbreak seems to be slowing amid tightened border controls and waning infections. The country Saturday reported no new coronavirus induced deaths. The total tally of cases as of today stand at 10,718 along with 240 fatalities, according to figures released by the country’s Centre of Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite the downward trend, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Syekyun raised concerns over possible transmission by quiet spreaders and has persisted for vigorous testing especially in hard hit places like Daegu. Chung also called for stronger financial tools to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic.
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