Coronavirus: Total number of cases worldwide passes 4m

Chinese official admits weaknesses in virus response as Brazil death toll passes that of UK

Coronavirus has infected more than 4 million people and killed more than 270,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University based on official data.

Here are the latest updates on the Covid-19 pandemic from around the world:


Spain’s daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to its second-lowest figure since mid-March on Saturday, as half the country prepared to move to the next phase of an exit from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

Spain began to loosen its lockdown this week, but its move to Phase 1 will include a considerable easing of measures that will allow people to move around their province as well as attend concerts and go to the theatre. Gatherings of up to 10 people will also be allowed. The country's daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 179 on Saturday, down from 229 the previous day and a fraction of the highs above 900 seen in early April. The cumulative death total rose to 26,478, while the number of diagnosed cases rose to 223,578 from 222,857 the day before, the health ministry said.


“We’ve managed to retake 99 per cent of the ground lost to the virus,” said prime minister Pedro Sánchez in a televised address on Saturday. But he warned people moving to Phase 1 to be “prudent” and “cautious”. Some 51 per cent of the population will progress to Phase 1 of a four-step easing plan on Monday after the government decided the regions in which they lived met the necessary criteria.

In regions that made the cut, such as the Canary and Balearic Islands, bars, restaurants and shops will open at reduced capacity, and museums, gyms and hotels will open their doors for the first time in nearly two months. The country's two biggest cities – Madrid and Barcelona – do not currently meet the criteria for easing and will remain on Phase 0.

Meanwhile, deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 194 on Saturday, against 243 new deaths the day before, the country's Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 1,083 from 1,327 on Friday.

The total Italian death toll since the outbreak came to light in the country on February 21st now stands at 30,395, the agency said, the third highest in the world after the US and the UK. The number of confirmed cases in Italy amounts to 218,268 – the third-highest such tally in the world behind those of the US and Spain.

The agency said 1.645 million people in Italy had now been tested for the virus, against 1.609 million on Friday, out of a population of about 60 million.

The number of people who have died from coronavirus infections in France rose by 80 to 26,310 on Saturday, the French health ministry said, a much smaller daily increase than in the previous day, when it was 243. The ministry said the number of people in intensive care units fell by 56, or about 2 per cent, to 2,812. That is less than half the peak of 7,148 seen on April 8th.

France will start lifting its almost two-month-old national lockdown from Monday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has 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. Germany's plans to restart competitive soccer on May 16th suffered an early setback after the entire team of second-tier Dynamo Dresden were placed in a two-week quarantine following two positive coronavirus tests.

Slovakia on Friday recorded no new cases of coronavirus for the first time since March 10th, government figures showed.

Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases of coronavirus for a seventh straight day, including more than 80 at its biggest gold mine.

Belarus defied worries about the pandemic to hold a parade marking the 75th anniversary of victory over the Nazis, with thousands of people in attendance, including elderly veterans.


The UK death toll has risen by 346 to 31,587 across all settings, while a total of 215,260 people have now tested positive for Covid-19, an increase of 3,896 cases on Friday.

The British government is set to announce a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travellers into Britain as part of measures aimed at avoiding a second peak of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been reported.

The London Times says that British prime minister Boris Johnson will make the announcement in an address to the nation on Sunday.

Under the measures, which are expected to be implemented in June, all passengers arriving at airports and ports will be required to provide an address at which they will immediately self-isolate for 14 days.However, it says travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt from the quarantine.

The paper reports that “authorities will conduct spot checks”, with punishments for those not adhering to the rules, including “fines of up to £1,000” and deportation.

At a daily briefing on Saturday, transport minister Grant Shapps said that Mr Johnson will proceed with “extreme caution” in easing the lockdown, and warned the public not to “throw away” their hard work by going outside.


A day after the White House confirmed that US president Donald Trump's personal valet had tested positive for the virus, Mr Trump told reporters that Katie Miller, press secretary to US vice-president Mike Pence, had also been infected. She is married to senior Trump aide and immigration policy hardliner Stephen Miller, and travels frequently with Mr Pence. The back-to-back diagnoses of individuals close to Mr Trump, Mr Pence and the White House inner circle raised questions about whether the highest levels of government are adequately safeguarded from infection. "We've taken every single precaution to protect the president," White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters.

More than 77,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, out of more than 1.29 million confirmed cases, according to a Reuters tally.

New York, seen as the centre of the US’s epidemic, has reported the fewest new coronavirus cases in seven weeks.


China will reform its disease prevention and control system to address weaknesses exposed by the coronavirus outbreak, a senior Chinese health official said on Saturday.

China has been criticised domestically and abroad as being initially slow to react to the virus, which first broke out on a large scale in Wuhan.

“This coronavirus epidemic is a big test of our country’s governance and governing ability, and it exposed the weak links in how we address major epidemic and public health systems,” Li Bin, vice-minister of the China National Health Commission, told reporters.

The commission intends to build a “centralised and efficient” chain of command, and modernise the disease prevention and control system, he said. The commission also aims to make better use of big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to better analyse the disease, trace the virus and distribute resources. China has not seen any new deaths from coronavirus for 24 days.

China is willing to offer support to North Korea against coronavirus, state television said on Saturday, quoting a letter from president Xi Jinping to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korea

Seoul has shut down more than 2,100 nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of coronavirus infections were linked to clubgoers who went out last weekend as South Korea relaxed social distancing guidelines. The measures imposed by mayor Park Won-soon came after the national government urged entertainment venues around the nation to close or enforce anti-virus measures, including distancing, temperature checks, keeping customer lists and requiring employees to wear masks.

Officials reported 18 fresh cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, including 12 in the capital Seoul, as health workers scramble to trace contacts after detecting a slew of transmissions linked to clubgoers.

Figures released by South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought national totals to 10,840 cases and 256 deaths.

Officials said they detected at least 15 infections linked to a 29-year-old man who visited three clubs last Saturday before testing positive on Wednesday.

The infections raised concern about a broader spread of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.

Rest of the world

Covid-19 could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year if it is not contained, the World Health Organisation has said.

More than 500 workers at an industrial facility in Ghana have tested positive for coronavirus, the country’s health service said on Friday. The overall number of cases in Ghana rose on Friday to 4,012, including 18 deaths, from 3,091 on Thursday.

Brazil has surpassed the UK in fatalities, and infections there have tripled in the past two weeks, as officials warned the numbers are likely higher given the low level of testing. British medical journal The Lancet called president Jair Bolsonaro the biggest threat to Brazil’s ability to successfully combat the spread of coronavirus and tackle the unfolding public health crisis.

At least six people were killed when protesters angry over what they see as unfair food aid distribution during the pandemic clashed with police in Afghanistan’s western Ghor province on Saturday, according to officials. – PA/Reuters/Guardian/Bloomberg