Coronavirus: What you need to know today

Sample coronavirus test [PHOTO: Euronews] hospital COVID-19
Sample coronavirus test [PHOTO: Euronews]

As governments around the world begin easing lockdowns put up to slow the spread of COVID-19, countries are experiencing new waves of the infections as earlier predicted by the World Health Organisation.

Globally, more than four million people have contracted the disease, over 270,000 have died from it while more than 1.4 million have recovered, according to data from Worldometer, a website keeping record of the pandemic since its outbreak in January.

Here, PREMIUM TIMES brings you a round-up of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe, as of Saturday morning.

Nigerian cases nearly 4,000 within week of easing lockdown

More than 3,900 people in Nigeria have been infected with the COVID-19 disease as the country on Friday, recorded 386 cases, its highest daily figure, days after relaxing lockdown in its three major states—Lagos, FCT and Ogun.

Earlier in the week, the World Health Organisation had warned governments around the globe against easing lockdown, so as not to cause a spike in fections.

Nigerians have been reported to be flouting the safety guidelines put in place by the government to combat the spread of the disease.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), with Friday’s figure, the total tally of infected people in the country rose to 3,912 from 3,526 reported on Thursday evening.

South Africa to grant parole to 19,000 inmates

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said some low-risk prisoners would be granted amnesty to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in correctional facilities, South African Times reports.

According to the report, around 19,000 people would be freed by the move which is a response to UN’s call on all countries to reduce prison populations so that social distancing and self-isolation conditions could be observed.

“In South Africa, as in many other countries, correctional facilities have witnessed outbreaks of coronavirus infections among inmates and personnel,” Mr Ramaphosa was quoted as saying.

Sudan extends curfew in capital city to slow virus

Sudan extended a 20-day curfew in its capital city, Khartoum by 10 more days.

The curfew has been on since April 18.

Khartoum, the smallest but also the most populous, is the hardest hit in the country. It has recorded 1,111 confirmed infections and 59 related deaths.

Travel between the capital, Khartoum, and other Sudanese states will be banned, the official SUNA news agency reported.

China offers help to N.Korea in fight against virus

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, offering Beijing’s support in the fight against the coronavirus, Al Jazeera reported.

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Quoting Mr Xi’s letter, the Chinese president was said to be very concerned about the situation in North Korea and the health of its people.

The supportive message came a day after North Korea leader, Kim Jong Un congratulated Me Xi for his handling of the pandemic and “highly appreciating that he is seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic.”

Meanwhile, China reported 16 new coronavirus cases at the end of Friday, unchanged from the day before, data from the national health authority showed on Saturday.

China’s total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 82,887, although 78,000 cases have recovered, while the official death toll remains unchanged at 4,633.

Russia scales down Victory Day over coronavirus

As Russia marks 75 years since the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two on Saturday, the coronavirus outbreak has forced it to scale back celebrations seen as boosting support for the Kremlin.

Amid increasing infections, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, last month postponed the highlight of Victory Day celebrations, a massive parade on Red Square that showcases Moscow’s most sophisticated military hardware, to an unspecified date.

Mr Putin has described Victory Day celebrations as sacred to Russians but said a big public event was too risky during the pandemic. As of Friday, Russia had reported 187,859 coronavirus cases and 1,723 deaths.

Thailand coronavirus cases exceed 3,000

Thailand’s coronavirus cases have exceeded 3,000 cases with 56 deaths as it recorded 56 new cases on Saturday, according to Reuters news agency.

A 68-year-old man from Bangkok reportedly died from the COVID-19 disease on Saturday while
two of the new cases are from the southern province of Yala, where the authorities are aggressively testing people due to high infection rates.

One was linked with previous cases and one had a risk history from public places, he said.

South Korea’s football league opens with no spectators

South Korea’s football league season kicked off after several weeks of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Al Jazeera reports that as the season starts with reigning champions Jeonbuk Motors hosting Suwon Bluewings in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, no fans will be allowed at least in the early stages.

The K-League is the biggest football league to play at the moment, before Germany’s Bundesliga restarts on May 16.

It normally has a 12-team campaign but has now been shortened from 38 to 27 match days.

Meanwhile, the country, on Saturday, reported 18 fresh cases of the contagion, including 12 in Seoul.

Australia’s biggest states hold off relaxing COVID-19 lockdowns

Australia’s most populous states held back from easing COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, AFP reports.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on Friday, outlined plans to remove most curbs by July in a three-step process to get nearly one million people back to work, as the country has reined in new COVID-19 infections to less than 20 a day with strict lockdowns.

Australia’s total deaths from COVID-19 remain just below 100, while the number of cases were close to 7,000.

Brazil’s Supreme Court asked to halt restrictions

Brazil’s economy minister warns there could soon be product shortages in supermarkets if state quarantine measures are allowed to continue, AFP.

Paulo Guedes told an audience at the Supreme Court on Friday that Latin America’s largest market is at risk of ‘collapse’ similar to what happened in neighboring Venezuela.

Mr Guedes was joined by President Jair Bolsonaro and a group of industry leaders, who together walked to the top court to make their case for rollback of restrictions even as Brazil’s coronavirus cases continue to surge.

Official close to Trump, Pence positive of coronavirus

A member of the U.S. military who works in close proximity to President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

The White House, in a statement by its spokesman Hogan Gidley, said Mr Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have since tested negative for the virus and “remain in good health.”

Mr Gidley said the military member works “on the White House campus” and tested positive on Wednesday.

Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases hit 168,551

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,251 to 168,551, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.

The reported death toll rose by 147 to 7,369, the tally showed.

Argentina extends quarantine for capital, relaxes elsewhere

Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez extended until May 24 a quarantine for its capital Buenos Aires but relaxed the restriction aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus elsewhere in the country, Al Jazeera reports.

The lockdown, which was in place since March 20 and is due to expire on Sunday, will remain in place in the capital and its outskirts, Fernandez said in a televised address.

Mr Fernandez said he was “extremely proud” of Argentines for observing the strict social isolation measures.

As of Friday, the country had registered 5,611 confirmed cases of the virus and 293 deaths.

US blocks UN Security Council vote on coronavirus

The United States on Friday prevented a vote in the UN Security Council on a resolution calling to end worldwide hostilities amid the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.

The text, under negotiation since March, called for a worldwide cessation of hostilities in conflict zones so governments can address the pandemic.

Diplomats interviewed on CNN said the U.S blocked the procedure that would have led to a vote on the resolution “apparently because it made implicit mention of the World Health Organisation.”

Tanzania gets Madagascar’s anti-coronavirus drink disputed by WHO

Tanzania announced the receipt of its first shipment of Madagascar’s self-proclaimed, plant-based ‘cure’ for coronavirus.

The announcement on Friday came days after Madagascar said it would begin selling the herbal concoction – known as Covid-Organics – and that several African countries had already put in orders.

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Earlier, the World Health Organisation had warned that its efficacy is unproven.

Japan lowers bar to coronavirus testing

The Japanese Health Ministry said it now wants people experiencing difficulty breathing or those with a fever to seek advice on whether they may have been infected with the new coronavirus, easing public access to testing, Al Jazeera reports.

Government guidelines had previously specified that those who had had a fever of 37.5 Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) or more for four consecutive days should seek advice at local public health centres, which are tasked with conducting screening ahead of administering tests for the virus.

The ministry has now dropped its temperature-related criteria.

UN agency for Palestinians launches emergency appeal

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) launched an emergency coronavirus appeal, saying Palestinians across the Middle East were suffering a devastating socioeconomic impact.

According to Al Jazeera, the agency appealed for $93.4 million for the next three months to provide food and cash assistance to the vulnerable.

While the number of Palestinian refugees infected with COVID-19 has so far been relatively low, they often work in informal sectors and are facing devastating economic repercussions from the crisis, UNRWA said.

France records 243 new deaths

France reported another 243 coronavirus deaths, raising its total toll to 26,230, while the number of patients in intensive care continued to fall.

While the country has been one of the hardest hit in Europe, it has seen the daily death rate steadily drop and is due to start emerging from a strict lockdown on Monday.

France reported 93 fewer patients suffering from the coronavirus in intensive care, dropping the total to 2,868. The figure rose above 7,000 at the peak of the country’s epidemic in April.

EU backs keeping external borders shut until mid-June

The European Union (EU) executive backed keeping curbs on travel to the continent in place for another 30 days until mid-June as part of extraordinary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, despite harming trade and tourism.

The bloc decided in mid-March to close its external borders for any non-essential travel in a largely failed bid to prevent the 27 member states from closing frontiers inside Europe’s control-free travel zone, Al Jazeera.

The EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said this week Europe would have to “go back to the future” of open borders once the pandemic is under control.

Italy tops 30,000 deaths, new cases reduce

Italy became the third country in the world to record 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus, reporting 243 new fatalities compared with a daily tally of 274 the day before.

The country’s total death toll from COVID-19 since its outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 30,201, the Civil Protection Agency said.

Only the United States and Britain have seen more deaths from the virus.



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