As the coronavirus pandemic enters its fifth month since December, the total confirmed cases worldwide have crossed 3.4 million with 238,663 fatalities as on May 2. Over 1,000,000 people have recovered from the virus till now, according to John Hopkins University tally. The United States continues to remain the worst affected country globally, even as at least 30 US states start to ease lockdown measures by opening restaurants and other businesses. The virus has killed over 64,000 in the US.
Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration has said that remdesivir is the first drug shown to help fight the coronavirus, even as it allowed the emergency use of this experimental drug. Follow coronavirus LIVE UPDATES
Here are the latest Covid-19 developments from around the globe:
Italy plans to reopen nurseries, summer schools after 2 months of lockdown
Hit hardest by the coronavirus, Italy is prepping to reopen nurseries and hold mini summer schools for children after two months of lockdown, according to news agency AFP. However, going by the AFP tally, Italy today saw a significant single-day jump in the Covid cases, recording 474 deaths, since April 21. The virus has claimed over 28,000 lives in the country.
The schools in the ccountry have been closed until September, but citing the education ministry’s circular published by the Corriere della Sera daily, AFP said kindergartens and day nurseries may be used from June for small groups of children aged zero to six years. Their temperatures would be checked on entry and they would only be allowed to play with pre-sterilised toys, nothing brought from home. The same children would attend each group each time. They would not wear masks, but the teachers would, the circular stated.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has insisted that children carry a very high risk of contagion. And the country has the oldest teachers across OECD, with nearly 60 per cent aged above 50.
New York: Over 1,000 policemen take to streets to ban congregations
About 1,000 policemen in New York have been dispatched this weekend to enforce social distancing and implement a ban on congregating in public spaces. Offiers across the city set out on foot, bicycles and cars to break up crowds and remind those enjoying the warmer weather to maintain 6 feet distance for others. So far, the city police has made 60 arrests and issued 343 summons, all violating the social distancing norm since March 16.
Last month on April 18 officers arrested people and issued summons at a Bronx parking lot and garage where they found a makeshift nightclub featuring a pool table and bar offering hard liquor and Corona beer, and at a closed Brooklyn barbershop where more than 50 people gathered for a party featuring loud music and gambling. Two days later, the police had to break up a 4/20 Marijuana holiday celebration staged in the vacant third floor of a building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Dozens of people, some drawn by social media hype about the party, were given summonses for trespassing. (AP)
Spaniards come out to exercise first time in 7 weeks
After Spain ended a prohibition on outdoor exercise, in an attempt to gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, thousands of people took to streets early morning on Saturday in their athletic gear for the first time in seven weeks. Some people were seen running with a face mask.
The government has set up time slots for age groups and activities to prevent crowds from forming and exposing the most at-risk elders. People between the age bracket of 14 and 70 are now allowed to go out for individual exercise from 6 am to 10 am and 8 pm to 11 pm. People who are over 70-years-old can go out from 10 am to noon and 7 pm to 8 pm, with one caregiver if needed.Children under 14 are now allowed to go out between noon and 7 p.m. for walks with one parent, for up one hour, within 1 kilometer (half a mile) of home. They cannot play with other children. (AP)
US commits over $775 million to help countries fight pandemic
The United States has committed over $775 million in emergency health, humanitarian and economic assistance that will help over 120 countries, including India, in fighting the pandemic, the State Department said. According to a fact sheet released by the US State Department on Friday, the over USD 775 million assistance is specifically aimed at helping governments, international organisations, and NGOs to fight the pandemic.
This funding, provided by Congress, will save lives by improving public health education, protecting healthcare facilities, and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 120 countries, it said. India has received USD 5.9 million in health assistance to hinder the spread of the disease by providing care for the affected, disseminating essential public health messages to communities and strengthen case-finding and surveillance, it said. (Read more)
Pandemic causing untold fear and suffering among old: UN
Stating that the coronavirus pandemic is causing untold fear and suffering for older people across the world who are dying at a higher rate, the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has launched a 16-page policy briefing with several key messages. Guterres said that beyond the health risks, the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty, with an especially devastating impact on the elderly in developing countries. The poliuce most importantly states, no person, young or old, is expendable and older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else. Guterres also called for improved social support and smarter efforts to use digital technology to reach older people who may face great suffering because of isolation and restrictions on their movements. (AP)
Singapore to allow businesses to reopen as Covid cases fall
Singapore will allow some businesses to reopen from May 12 amidst a decline in coronavirus cases at community level, the health ministry said. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that Singapore is in a position to start the gradual easing of the strict “circuit breaker” measures, PTI cited Channel News Asia’s report.
He said that some businesses will resume operations from May 12, with a gradual resumption of selected activities and services over a few weeks. The circuit breaker has been extended to June 1. Home-based food businesses, selected food retail outlets and food manufacturing firms will be among those to resume operations from May 12, co-chair of the task force Minister Lawrence Wong said. (PTI)
Pakistan sees over 1,200 Covid cases in a day
Pakistan registered its highest single day spike in the Covid cases recording 1,297 infections taking the total number to 18,114. The death toll in the country is 417 with 32 fatalities recorded in a day, the Ministry of National Health Services said. As many as 4,715 patients have been recovered, it said. According to PTI, officials, however, said the spike in the Covid-19 cases is not surprising as it due to the increase in the coronavirus testing. As many as 193,859 tests have been conducted so far, including 9,164 in the last 24 hours, they said.
Madonna tests positive for virus
Pop diva Madonna has revealed that she has tested positive for the COVID-19 anitbodies. The singer shared the news in the 14th edition of her Quarantine Diary on Instagram TV.
“Took a test the other day and I found out that I have the antibodies. So tomorrow I’m just going to go for a long drive in the car, and I’m gonna roll down the window and I’m gonna breathe in the COVID-19 air. Yup. I hope the sun is shining,” Madonna said.
Russia reports its highest single-day jump
Russia reported its highest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections Friday as some other countries and U.S. states where numbers of cases are stabilizing allowed businesses and public activities to reopen. The country now has 7,933 new cases Friday raising the total to 114,431 according to the government. The true number is believed to be higher because not everyone is tested and Russian tests are reported to be only 70% to 80% accurate.
At least five Russian regions reported a surge of pneumonia cases. In Moscow, which accounts for half of all virus cases, all respiratory infections are likely to be caused by the coronavirus, according to the public health agency. On Thursday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced he tested positive and would temporarily stop running the Cabinet. The construction minister and his deputy also have tested positive.
WHO praises China for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic
World Health Organisation Saturday praised China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and urged other nations to learn from Wuhan on how the it was bringing the society back to normal. This comes a day after US President Donald Trump commented on the organisation being a public relations agency for China.
Noting that there are zero COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, Maria van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme at a virtual press briefing in Geneva, said, “that’s very very welcome news to hear that there are no more severe cases, no more patients in Wuhan.””So congratulations on this achievement,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying on Saturday. “The world has learned from China and we need to continue to learn from Wuhan on how they are lifting those measures, how they are bringing society back to normal, or a new normal, in terms of how we’re going to live with this virus going forward,” she said.
Trump on Thursday said the WHO should be “ashamed” of itself, as he compared the UN’s health organ to a public relations agency for China amidst the coronavirus pandemic after it originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
China mishandled coronavirus outbreak, says White House
The White House Friday said China “mishandled the situation” after it originated in Wuhan a day after President Donald Trump threatened to use tariffs as a tool against China for mishandling the crisis.
The White House however refrained from giving a definitive answer on retaliatory measures against the country. The United States is one of the several countries including Germany, Britain and Australian to blame China for the spread of the current pandemic.
FDA allows emergency use of remdesivir drug for coronavirus patients
US Food and Drug Administration Friday allowed the emergency use of an experimental drug that appears to help some coronavirus patients recover faster. This will be the first drug shown to help fighting the virus. The US regulators acted post preliminary results from a government sponsored study showed that Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir drug reduced the time of recovery by 31% or about 4 days on a average for hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
The study of 1,063 patients is the largest and most strict test of the drug and included a comparison group that received just usual care so remdesivir’s effects could be rigorously evaluated.
President Donald Trump announced the FDA’s action at the White House. Those given the drug were able to leave the hospital in 11 days on average versus 15 days for the comparison group.
The National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci said the drug would become a new standard of care for severely ill Covid-19 patients like those in this study.
France reports lowest daily virus toll in five weeks
France reported its smallest number of deaths in a 24 hour period in more than 5 weeks on Friday with 218 coronavirus deaths.The last time the country recorded such a low daily number of fatalities was March 23, when there were 186 registered deaths. France has the fourth highest death toll in Europe, with 24,594.
The government has announced the country’s strict lockdown will be eased from May 11, but the pace will be slower in harder hit areas such as the greater Paris area and the northeast quarter of the country.
Coronavirus cases in Pakistan cross 17,000
Pakistan Friday reported 882 fresh Covid-19 cases taking the total number of infections in the country to 17,699 along with 408 fatalities, according to the Ministry of National health Services.
Punjab reported 6,340 cases, Sindh 6,675, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 2,799, Balochistan 1,136, Islamabad 343, Gilgit-Baltistan 340 cases, according to the latest data released by the ministry.
The health ministry said that so far 182,131 tests had been conducted, including 7,971 on April 30. “There were 3,706 patients admitted in 717 hospitals with COVID-19 facilities across the country. The rest of the patients were isolated at homes,” according to the ministry.Advisor on Health Zafar Mirza said that either the end of May or middle of June could be the peak period for coronavirus in the country.
World’s largest mall reopens with restrictions
Dubai mall which is touted as the world’s largest mall, re-opened with a set of guidelines this week under strict safeguards after being shut down for a month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Children between the ages of 3 and 12, elderly over 60 years and people in higher group risks are prohibited to enter the mall.
Visitor guidelines such as wearing a mask and not staying inside the complex for longer than 3 hours were put in place as precautionary measures in the fight against COVID-19.
The mall was shut on March 23 and Dubai had been under an overnight curfew along with the rest of UAE since March 26.
South Korea continues to flatten its curve
South Korea continued its month-long streak of less than 100 cases, with 6 fresh cases reported Saturday. This brought national figures to 10,780 cases and 250 virus-related deaths, according to figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Out of these at least 1,081 cases have been linked to international arrivals.
With reduction in cases, government officials have been relaxing social distancing guidelines and shifting focus to ease the shock on the economy.During the first three months of the year, the economy saw its worst contraction since late 2008 as the pandemic hit both domestic consumption and exports.
Malaysia rounding up undocumented migrants to contain coronavirus
According to the Malaysian police force,authorities are rounding up undocumented migrants as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, after hundreds of migrants and refugees were detained in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Over 700 migrants were taken into custody, including young children and ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, during Friday’s raid in a downtown area where thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers live, rights groups had said.
The operation was aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas amid movement curbs imposed to contain the spread of the outbreak.
IMF grants $643 million loan to fight coronavirus in Ecuador
The International Monetary Fund Friday approved a request from Ecuador for emergency financing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, granting a $643 million loan, the Andean country’s economy ministry said .Ecuador has been among the hardest-hit countries in Latin America by the coronavirus, with 24,675 confirmed cases and 883 deaths.
“This financing will allow us to have the necessary liquidity to support the reactivation of the economy, and protect jobs,” the ministry said in a statement.
Britain hits it’s target of 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day
Britain has hit its target of carrying out 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day, health minister Matt Hancock said on Friday, stressing that the programme was crucial to helping ease a national lockdown. Hancock set the target of reaching 100,000 tests by the end of April after being criticised for moving too slowly on mass testing compared to other countries like Germany.
Since then, the government has increased the number of drive-through testing sites, begun sending out home tests and has rapidly expanded the number of people eligible to apply for a test.
Hancock also announced that the British death toll had risen by 739 to 27,510 deaths – just below that of Italy which was one of the first and worst-hit European states.
More than a dozen US states reopen restaurants and other businesses
In the biggest one day push yet to restart their economies amid the pandemic more than a dozen US states let restaurants, stores or other businesses reopen Friday. The states are acting at their own speed and with their own quirks and restrictions to make sure the coronavirus doesn’t come storming back.
People in Louisiana could eat at restaurants again but had to sit outside at tables 10 feet 3 meters apart with no waiter service. Maine residents could attend church services as long as they stayed in their cars. And a Nebraska mall reopened with plexiglass barriers and hand sanitizing stations but few shoppers.
President Donald Trump said Friday that he’s hoping the total number of COVID19 deaths in the United States will be below 100000 which he acknowledged is a horrible number. Trump’s predictions of the expected US death toll have changed over time with his earlier 60000 projection now being eclipsed. But he said at a White House event that maybe millions of lives have been saved by shutting down the economy.
UN chief seeks stronger efforts to aid elderly amid pandemic
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Friday said the coronavirus pandemic is causing “untold fear and suffering” for older people around the world who are dying at a higher rate and especially for those above the age of 80 whose fatality rate is five times the global average.
Antonio Guterres said Friday that beyond the health risks, “the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty,” with an especially devastating impact on the elderly in developing countries.
The U.N. chief launched a 16-page policy briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on older people with several key messages, most importantly that “no person, young or old, is expendable” and “older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else.”
Guterres also called for improved social support and “smarter efforts” to use digital technology to reach older people who may face great suffering because of isolation and restrictions on their movements.