Coronavirus world update: Death toll rises from global pandemic
UK signals 828 fatalities, Spain registers 430 deaths, Indonesia takes action to stem tide
Health workers in protective clothing take care of a patient at the intensive care unit, treating Covid-19 patients, at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome. Photograph: Getty
The World Health Organisation has warned against any rush to ease coronavirus restrictions, as some US states look to end lockdown conditions and restart their economies.
Here are the latest updates on the pandemic from around the world:
The UK reported a further 828 fatalities in hospitals on Tuesday bringing the coronavirus death toll to 17,337.
The British department of health said confirmed cases of the virus, also known as Covid-19, had risen to 129,044.
President Donald Trump has been agitating to restart the economy, singling out Democratic-led states and egging on protesters complaining that the shutdowns are destroying their livelihoods and trampling their rights.
In several states – most of them Republican-led – governors said they had seen signs that the coronavirus curve is flattening, making it possible to start reopening businesses and public spaces.
Mr Trump said on Monday he will suspend all immigration into the United States temporarily through an executive order. He also said he was working with state governors to make sure they had the resources needed to ramp up testing, while the US Congress inched toward a $450 billion (€415 billion) deal to help small businesses and hospitals.
The country is preparing for the arrival of 129 deportees from the US, as officials fear that some might be infected with Covid-19.
Prime minister Joseph Jouthe said the flight is scheduled to arrive on Thursday. Mr Jouthe told Radio Vision 2000 on Monday that three of 68 people previously deported from the US have tested positive. He said the entire group was placed under a two-week quarantine in a hotel financed by the government.
Mr Jouthe said another group of at least 280 migrants expelled by the Turks and Caicos government are also under quarantine.
Haiti has reported just over 50 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths.
New deaths attributed to the virus in Spain are slightly up again on Tuesday, with 430 fatalities that bring the total death toll to 21,282 from a four-week low of 399 daily deaths on Monday.
Spain is reporting nearly 4,000 new infections to a total of 204,178, a 2 per cent day-to-day increase in line with the average for the past four days, health ministry data shows.
The government is assessing already how to roll back one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, starting from next Monday by allowing children to go out on to the streets for brief periods. Spain’s centre-left cabinet is discussing details on how the measure will be implemented during Tuesday’s weekly meeting.
An eight-week survey of 30,000 households that will be tested for the virus is also expected to roll out on April 27th, allowing authorities to gauge what’s the level of immunisation beyond hospitals and nursing homes, where testing has focused during the peak of the pandemic.
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday confirmed that Italy can start reopening on May 4th, but he doused any hopes of a total loosening of some of the strictest lockdown measures in a western democracy.
“Many citizens are tired of the efforts that have been made so far and would like a significant loosening of these measures, or even their total abolition,” said Mr Conte in, adding that “a decision of that kind would be irresponsible”.
Mr Conte indicated that moves to relax the restrictions would be announced by the end of the week, and that they would take into account the different circumstances among regions.
Italy’s north, hardest hit by the virus and the country’s economic engine, has been straining to restart industry after a shutdown of non-essential manufacturing on March 26th – even as some have received permission to reopen with a much-reduced workforce in recent days.
Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia estimates as much as 40 per cent of companies are already working in the region. Mr Conte said the regions still were not able to keep up with some necessities for a reopening, including masks and gloves, noting that the government had supplied 110 million masks in addition to 3,000 ventilators to hospitals.
“It is too easy to say, ‘let’s open everything,” said Mr Conte.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Austria intends to proceed with plans to open all shops at the beginning of May and restaurants in mid-May.
Austria allowed small shops to open a week ago.
Mr Kurz said that coronavirus infections have continued to drop, so the government can move ahead with the reopening plan it already sketched out.
He said the government will review the situation at two-week intervals, “so as always to have the opportunity to pull the emergency brake if that is necessary”.
The plan calls for the remaining shops, along with services such as hairdressers and manicurists, to open at the beginning of May. Schools are scheduled to start opening in May and religious services will resume on May 15th.
The government also plans to allow the catering industry to restart on the same date, with all staff required to wear masks. There will be restrictions on how many customers can be present.
Mr Kurz advised Austrians against “prematurely” expecting unlimited freedom to travel around Europe. He said that he will take his summer vacation in Austria, and “can only recommend to Austrians that they do the same.”
The government is launching a comprehensive study with a goal to determine the number of undetected infections with the coronavirus in its population.
Health minister Adam Vojtech said some 27,000 people countrywide will be tested in the next two weeks, starting on Thursday.
The study will be conducted on people aged 18-89 in different parts of the Czech Republic, where the epidemic is at different stages. In the capital of Prague and the second-largest city of Brno, children also will be included.
The samples of the population tested will include volunteers as well a selected group suffering from chronic diseases.
This year’s Oktoberfest in Munich has been called off because of the pandemic.
The cancellation of the world-famous annual celebration of beer, which was supposed to run from September 19th to October 4th, underlines expectations that the path back to normal life will be long.
The Oktoberfest typically draws about six million visitors every year to packed festival grounds in Bavaria’s capital.
State governor Markus Soeder said after meeting Munich’s mayor on Tuesday: “We agreed that the risk is simply too high.”
He added that “you can neither keep your distance nor work with facial protection” at the Oktoberfest.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders is sounding the alarm that the coronavirus pandemic poses a threat to press freedom worldwide.
In its annual evaluation of global media freedoms in Paris, the group warned that the health crisis could serve as an excuse for governments “to take advantage of the fact that politics are on hold, the public is stunned and protests are out of the question, in order to impose measures that would be impossible in normal times”.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has strongly backed his foreign minister’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
China’s foreign ministry rejected Australian foreign minister Marise Payne’s call on Sunday for an independent review into the origins of the virus, including China’s handling of the initial outbreak.
Mr Morrison said Ms Payne’s view had his “very, very strong support”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes Turkey has reached a plateau in cases of coranavirus.
In an address to officials from his ruling party on Tuesday, Mr Erdogan said Turkey could “transition to a normal life” in June, following a holiday that marks the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan – as long as measures are adhered to aimed at curbing the virus’s spread.
Mr Erdogan described the pandemic as the “biggest crisis since the second World War in terms of the economic impact”.
Turkey has reported 90,980 coronavirus cases and 2,140 deaths. The country is imposing weekend curfews and among other measures has banned people above the age of 65 and below the age of 20 from leaving homes.
Singapore has announced it would extend its lockdown by another four weeks after a sharp upsurge in cases in recent days.
The city state reported 1,111 new cases earlier on Tuesday to take its total to 9,125, the highest in southeast Asia. Foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories account for nearly 80per cent of infections.
Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said most of the new cases were due to aggressive testing of workers in the dorms, including those who are asymptomatic.
Mr Lee said in a televised speech that the clusters in the dorms have remained largely contained but circuit-breaker measures, that shut down non-essential businesses and schools until May 4th, will be prolonged till June 1st until infections ease.
Mr Lee said the government would shut more workplaces so that only the most essential services will stay open. Mr Lee said the “short-term pain” is crucial to stamp out the virus, and pledged to provide further help for businesses and workers.
South Korea’s professional baseball league has decided to begin its new season on May 5th, initially without fans, following a postponement over the coronavirus.
The Korea Baseball Organisation made the announcement after a board meeting on Tuesday while teams began their pre-season exhibition games in empty stadiums.
The league says fans will be barred from games until the risk of infections are gone.
A car used by the World Health Organisation to transport swab samples to be tested for the Covid-19 virus has been attacked in western Burma, killing the driver and wounding a passenger.
The Global New Light of Burma newspaper reported that the vehicle bearing a UN licence plate was attacked in Rakhine State en route to Rangoon late on Monday afternoon.
Rakhine has been the scene of bitter fighting between the government and the Arakan Army, an ethnic guerrilla group fighting for autonomy in Rakhine State. Each side blamed the other for the Monday attack.
President Joko Widodo has banned people in the world’s most populous Muslim nation from travelling back home to celebrate the Islamic holiday during the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came amid warnings from health experts of a chance Indonesia will face an outbreak of coronavirus cases that could infect more than a million people following Ramadan, unless the government takes stricter measures in a country home to about 230 million Muslims.
Mr Widodo said government surveys that showed 24 per cent of people insisted on returning home for the holiday had caused him to issue the ban. He asked his administration to prepare measures in enforcing the restriction.
As of Monday, the nation had reported at least 6,760 infections – including 590 deaths from Covid-19, more fatalities than any Asian country other than China.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe expressed concerns that Japanese people have not followed social distancing measures as much as they are supposed to under a state of emergency he declared two weeks ago to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Abe asked citizens to do more to prevent the Japanese healthcare systems from collapsing.
He said: “Please avoid making out-of-town trips.” He added that hospitals are overburdened already and infections must be slowed. “I seek further co-operation from all of you.”
Mr Abe noted that many people in urban areas made trips out of town last weekend, posing risks of spreading the virus and putting elderly people in jeopardy.
The General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for global action to rapidly scale up development, manufacturing and access to medicine, vaccines and medical equipment to confront the pandemic.
The Mexican-drafted resolution requests UN secretary general Antonio Guterres work with the World Health Organisation and recommend options to ensure timely and equitable access to testing, medical supplies, drugs and future coronavirus vaccines for all in need, especially in developing countries.
It reaffirms the fundamental role of the United Nations system in co-ordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of Covid-19 and in supporting the 193 UN member states, “and in this regard acknowledges the crucial leading role played by the World Health Organisation”. – Reuters/AP