As the number of people infected with COVID-19 hit over 2.5 million, there are grave concerns that the pandemic will usher in more calamities like food shortage and increased fatalities as the curve is yet to flatten to a point of declination.
While this goes on, some countries are easing their lockdown restrictions over religious matters—like the descent of the Muslim holy month,Ramadan—and mental health issues. These and many more are summed up in this report.
Nigeria Coronavirus cases surges to 782 as president calls for prisoners’ release
As Nigeria, on Tuesday, recorded its highest daily figure since its first COVID-19 case in February—117 cases were reported by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), President Muhammadu Buhari called for the decongestion of prisons across the country.
With the latest update, the total tally of infected people in the country rose to 782 from 665 reported on Monday evening.
The public health agency in a tweet Tuesday night said that new cases were reported in eight states. These are Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kano, Katsina,Ogun, Rivers, Bauchi and Borno states.
All the cases were reported in states with existing cases.
As the novel virus keeps spreading, Mr Buhari said “overcrowded facilities pose a potent threat to the health of the inmates and the public in general,” urging the chief judge Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to free prison inmates who have been awaiting trial for six years or more.
“Most of these custodial centres are presently housing inmates beyond their capacities; hence the need for urgent steps to bring the situation under control,” Mr Buhari said, adding that 42 percent of Nigeria’s 74,000 or so prisoners were awaiting trial.
The President said inmates with no confirmed criminal cases against them, elderly prisoners and those who were terminally ill could be discharged.
South Africa unveils $26bn relief plan
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Tuesday, announced a $26bn relief package to prop up the economy and support people in need during the coronavirus pandemic, South African Times reported.
Mr Ramaphosa said “the pandemic requires an economic response that is equal to the scale of the disruption it is causing.”
He added that the government had approached international financial institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and The African Development Bank.
Mr Ramaphosa said one tenth of the package would go towards the most vulnerable people over the next six months.
Trump to stop migrants from entering U.S over coronavirus
US President Donald Trump said he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States, saying he needs to protect American jobs as coronavirus ravages the economy, Al Jazeera reported.
The development is the latest in a string of moves cracking down on immigration as the coronavirus spreads in the United States.
The move, announced in a post on Twitter, allegedly effectively achieves a long-term Trump policy goal to curb immigration, making use of the health and economic crisis that has swept the country as a result of the pandemic to do so.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” Mr Trump said on Tuesday.
He offered no details as to what immigration programmes might be affected by the order. The White House did not immediately elaborate on Mr Trump’s announcement.
However, his decision has drawn ired condemnation from some Democrats, who accused the president of creating a distraction from what they view as a slow and faulty response to the coronavirus.
The US has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 42,000 deaths and 774,000 infections Tuesday morning.
In late March, Mr Trump said the US would swiftly return any migrants who attempted to cross into the country from Mexico and Canada. He argued migrants crossing the border threatened to worsen the US’s coronavirus outbreak.
Protesters out in cars in Lebanon over restriction
Dozens of protesters poured back onto the streets of the Lebanese capital Beirut, protesting in their cars to maintain physical distance as the country combats the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported.
The demonstrators were seen waving Lebanese flags as they protest in their cars, amid a countrywide lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beirut.
Large convoys of cars drove from Martyrs’ Square, the birthplace of the country’s uprising against the civil war-era ruling class in October, to the vicinity of a large theatre complex where MPs met on Tuesday to approve dozens of laws, including legalising the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial use.
Spain to allow children leave their homes
Spain says it will allow children, for the first time since the pandemic, to to leave their home as fears over their mental health have been growing, AFP reported.
Prime Minister Petro Sanchez said a maximum age level of 12 for outings would be limited to 90 minutes and need to be accompanied by an adult.
Morocco prison records 68 cases
Sixty-eight people, mostly staff, tested positive to coronavirus at a prison in the southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, prison authorities said on Tuesday.
Al Jazeera reports that at least six inmates, at the Ouarzazate facility, were among those to have contracted the coronavirus and all were now undergoing testing.
Morocco had, earlier this month, released 5,645 prisoners to help reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading in its prisons.
Saudi to ease restrictions in Ramadan
Saudi Arabia says it will ease curfew hours it imposed on several cities during the month of Ramadan to allow people more time to shop for essential needs within the boundaries of their neighbourhoods, state news agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
Currently, people living in areas under 24-hour curfew can go out for healthcare and to supermarkets from 6am to 3pm.
In Ramadan, these hours will start from 9am until 5pm, SPA said.
Austrian restaurants, churches and some schools to reopen from May 15
Austria will loosen its coronavirus lockdown on May 15 to allow restaurants to reopen and religious services to resume, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
Reuters reports that Mr Kurz said, during a news conference, that schools would reopen for other years in a step-by-step process beginning on May 15.
The country let DIY and garden centres as well as smaller shops reopen a week ago. Larger shops are due to follow from May 1.
Schools are already due to reopen for senior students in early May.
Iraq eases restrictions ahead of Ramadan
Iraqi authorities will partially scale back the 24-hour curfew imposed to contain the new coronavirus in a move to balance the restrictions for the month of Ramadan, Al Jazeera reported.
The new curfew will be implemented mainly at night, from 7pm until 6am local time as of April 21 until May 11.
The total ban, however, will stay in place on Fridays and Saturday.
Restrictions on public gatherings, gatherings of more than three people and social distancing rules remain in place while restaurants and cafes will be permitted to provide delivery services only.
Indonesia bans traditional Ramadan exodus to curtail coronavirus spread
Indonesia will ban its traditional annual exodus of people streaming out of cities at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Joko Widodo said.
Mr Widodo was concerned about the upsurge in infections and death toll which increased by 616 on Tuesday—the highest in East Asia after China.
Mr Widodo had previously resisted a ban, seeking instead to persuade people to stay put, Al Jazeera reported.
But health experts had warned that allowing millions in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country to travel to homes in towns and villages over Ramadan, which starts this week, could accelerate the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, six people were publicly flogged in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province on Tuesday for breaking local Islamic law, despite widespread bans on mass gatherings over coronavirus fears.
Officials insisted they followed social distancing rules but vowed that the global pandemic would not stand in the way of doling out justice.
“To comply with current conditions, we’re trying to cut unnecessary procedures like the usual opening speech,” the official responsible for Sharia punishments in provincial capital Banda Aceh, Safriadi said.
“We just carried out the flogging directly to make it simpler. Whipping will still go on, but we’re limiting the number of people involved.”
UN calls for quick scale up of medicines, vaccines
The United Nations General Assembly called for global action to quickly scale up the development of and access to medicines, vaccines and equipment to battle the pandemic, as the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that rushing to ease coronavirus lockdowns could lead to a resurgence of the outbreak.
The UN resolution asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work with the WHO and make recommendations to ensure that all people have equitable and timely access to testing, medical supplies, drugs and future vaccines, especially in developing countries.
Global hunger could double due to COVID-19 blow – UN
The number of people facing acute food insecurity could nearly double this year to 265 million due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said.
The impact of lost tourism revenues, falling remittances and travel and other restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic are expected to leave some 130 million people acutely hungry this year, adding to around 135 million already in that category.
“COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment and monitoring at the WFP said on Tuesday.
In a 2019 report by Food Security Information Network (FSIN), over 135 million people in 55 countries and territories were faced with acute food insecurity in 2019, and this requires urgent action.
The report said the situation could worsen this year due to the impact of COVID-19, but the precise magnitude of the deterioration is not yet known.
In Denmark, public gatherings will not exceed 500 people until September
Denmark will not allow public gatherings to exceed 500 persons until at least September 1, the Danish health ministry said in a statement.
The statement contradicted earlier media reports, which said the government would allow larger public gatherings from May 10.
A current upper limit on public gatherings of 10 people is in effect until May 10.
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