In this photo taken on April 1, 2020, aid workers from the Spanish NGO Open Arms carry out coronavirus detection tests on the elderly at a nursing home in Barcelona, Spain. (SANTI PALACIOS / AP)
GENEVA / PARIS / BRUSSELS / MEXICO CITY / LUSAKA / WASHINGTON / MONTEVIDEO / LONDON / BERLIN / MOSCOW / BLANTYRE / LISBON / NAIROBI / BUDAPEST / BUCHAREST / ROME / RIGA / CAPE TOWN / JOHANNESBURG / MADRID - Global coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million on Thursday with more than 52,000 deaths as the pandemic further exploded in the United States and the death toll climbed in Spain and Italy, according to a Reuters tally of official data.
Italy had the most deaths, more than 13,900, followed by Spain. The United States had the most confirmed cases of any country, more than 240,000, the data showed.
Since the virus was first recorded late last year, the pandemic has spread around the world, prompting governments to close businesses, ground airlines and order hundreds of millions of people to stay at home to try to slow the contagion.
Italy had the most deaths, more than 13,900, followed by Spain. The United States had the most confirmed cases of any country, more than 240,000, according to a Reuters tally of official data
Amid unprecedented government steps to prop up economies battered by the outbreak, US weekly jobless claims jumped to a record 6.6 million, double the record from the previous week.
Appearing for the first time since recovering from the virus himself, Britain's health minister Matt Hancock promised a tenfold increase in the number of daily tests for the coronavirus by the end of the month after the government faced criticism for failing to roll out mass checks for health workers and the public.
In Italy, it was the fourth consecutive day in which the number of new cases stayed within a range of 4,050-4,782, seeming to confirm government hopes that the epidemic had hit a plateau.
ALSO READ: Glimmer of hope for cases trend in Italy
Noting that the world is facing a new virus and the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO was reviewing the evidence and adapting recommendations to contain the pandemic as necessary.
"Every day, we are engaged in numerous discussions with our extensive networks of experts to refine our guidance to reflect the best science," Tedros said, noting the need to adapt WHO's guidance for different settings, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable communities.
This photo shows a view of a temporary field hospital set at the Ifema convention and exhibition in Madrid, Spain, April 2, 2020. (MANU FERNANDEZ / AP)
'Talks underway' over possible EU border closure extension
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that talks were underway among European Union member states over whether or not to extend border closures beyond Easter in order to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Von Der Leyen also reiterated that the next EU budget should take the form of a new "Marshall Plan" to drive Europe's recovery from the coronavirus outbreak, and that she felt Europe would emerge from the coronavirus crisis in a stronger state.
Spain overtook Italy for the first time on Friday for the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, but the overnight death toll fell from the previous day, providing a small glimmer of hope.
With a total 117,710 confirmed cases, Spain is now second in the number of infections only to the United States. Spain’s total death toll now stands at 10,935, second only to Italy, with 13,915 fatalities.
A total of 932 people died from the disease in 24 hours, down from 950 people in the previous daily toll, the figures showed.
Italy's national lockdown to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus will probably continue beyond the start of May, Angelo Borrelli, the head of the Civil Protection Agency, said on Friday.
This week, the government extended the lockdown until April 13.
The pandemic has claimed close to 14,000 lives in locked-down Italy, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries to 115,242 by Thursday, according to the latest data released by the country's Civil Protection Department.
Borrelli confirmed Thursday that there were 2,477 new active coronavirus infections compared to Wednesday, bringing the nationwide total to 83,049 cases.
Thursday saw 760 new fatalities, bringing the toll to 13,915 since the pandemic first broke out in northern Italy on Feb. 21.
France will change the format of this year's high-school 'Bac' exam as a result of concerns over the coronavirus, said the country's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer on Friday.
Blanquer said in a televised address that the traditional exam would be replaced by other means such as regular progress checks in areas such as coursework and homework, and that France would ramp up classes in June to make up for lost time.
French schools and universities have been shut since early March. Blanquer added that a return of pupils to schools in early May was just a "hypothesis" for now.
The coronavirus death count in France surged to 5,387 people on Thursday after the health ministry began including nursing home fatalities in its data.
In total, 59,105 people had tested positive for the virus.
The country's broad lockdown is likely to be extended beyond April 15, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday, extending a confinement order to try and deal with the crisis that began on March 17.
French police ramped up checks at train stations and motorways on Friday to stop people breaking a national lockdown ahead of school holidays this weekend, as doctors said they hoped to see a plateau in coronavirus cases in the coming days.
People look at the Manhattan skyline on April 2, 2020 as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. (ANGELA WEISS / AFP)
US President Donald Trump said he underwent a second coronavirus test on Thursday, using a rapid diagnostic that produced a result in less than 15 minutes, and it determined that he has not been infected.
At his daily White House news briefing, Trump announced plans for the US military and federal personnel to operate a makeshift hospital set up in the Javits Center convention center in New York to help the city grapple with a flood of patients.
The US tallied over 240,000 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday night local time, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 6,000 deaths were reported across the country, with over 20 percent occurred in New York City, the data showed.
Trump, who had initially played down the threat from the virus, made use of the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to try to order companies to produce hospital ventilators essential in keeping alive patients hit hard by COVID-19. He said he also used the law to get General Motors Co to produce more N-95 masks.
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state on Thursday announced a month-long extension to a stay-at-home order till May 4, while Governor John Bel Edwards of Lousiania state extended a similar order in the state through the end of April.
Meanwhile, the US Navy on Thursday relieved the commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote a scathing letter that leaked to the public asking for stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak onboard his warship.
The removal of Captain Brett Crozier from command of the 5,000-person vessel, which was first reported by Reuters, was announced by acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who said the commander exercised poor judgment.
Over 100 personnel on the Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the coronavirus so far.
Separately, a dozen of individuals on board US cruise ship Coral Princess have tested positive for COVID-19, the company said.
The ship is en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with an estimated arrival date of April 4, according to a statement by Princess Cruises. There are 1,898 people on board including 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members, according to the company.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ended her self-quarantine and returned to the chancellery on Friday after testing negative for coronavirus several times, her spokesman said.
Merkel had been self-quarantining and working from home after receiving a vaccination on March 20 from a doctor who was later found to have coronavirus.
Germany's coronavirus infections have risen to 79,696, with 1,017 deaths, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.
Cases rose 6,174 from the previous day, while the death toll climbed by 145, the tally showed.
In this handout photo provided 10 Downing Street, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a media briefing on the coronavirus at Downing Street, London, April 2, 2020. (PIPPA FOWLES / 10 DOWNING STREET VIA AP)
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will address the nation on Sunday over coronavirus, Buckingham Palace said.
The peak of the United Kingdom’s coronavirus outbreak will be slightly sooner than previously thought and will come in the next few weeks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday.
"The modelling suggests that that peak will be slightly sooner than previous, in the next few weeks but it is very, very sensitive to how many people follow the social distancing guidelines," Hancock told BBC radio.
Hancock on Thursday announced a new strategy to ramp up the UK diagnostics industry and promised a tenfold increase in the number of daily tests for coronavirus by the end of the month.
"I am now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month. That is the goal and I am determined that we will get there," he told reporters. The current number being conducted is about 10,000 a day.
Hancock said the government was also looking at "immunity certificates" for people who have developed resistance, as part of planning on how to end the national lockdown, but he said more scientific research was needed.
The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 684 to 3,605 as of 1600 GMT on April 2, up 23 percent on the previous day.
As of 9am 3 April, a total of 173,784 people have been tested of which 38,168 tested positive.
The government's current worst case scenario envisages a death toll of 50,000 if self-isolation is not fully adhered to, but the country is not on course for a toll of that scale, a source familiar with emergency government discussions said.
A new hospital, built in under two weeks in a conference centre in London to provide thousands of extra beds to treat those who have contracted the virus, will open its doors on Friday. Built with help from the military, it is the first of six new temporary hospitals to be set up across the country to cope with the outbreak.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was remaining in isolation on Friday as he still had mild symptoms of the coronavirus including a high temperature seven days after he tested positive for the virus.
Johnson announced a week ago that he had tested positive and would be isolating in Downing Street.
Latvia reported its first coronavirus death on Friday, when a 99-year-old woman died in a hospital in Riga, the Latvian health ministry said.
"The Ministry of Health confirms that the first patient diagnosed with COVID-19 has died in Latvia today," the ministry said in a statement.
According to the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Latvia has 493 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Zambia has recorded its first death from coronavirus, and the number of confirmed cases has risen by three to 39, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said on Thursday.
Chilufya said the three new cases registered in the southern African country had all got the virus from people who had travelled abroad.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Friday said the coronavirus situation in Russia could yet develop into a worst case scenario, and that the epidemic has not peaked there yet.
Russia will send 11 military planes carrying medical equipment to Serbia to help it fight the coronavirus outbreak, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Friday.
Russia has tallied 4,149 cases of COVID-19 in 78 regions as of Friday, up by 601 the previous day, official data showed. The death toll rose to 34 after four more patients died of the disease, Russia's coronavirus response center said in a statement.
President Vladimir Putin declared Thursday an extension of paid leave for all Russians to April 30 due to COVID-19.
Authorities, enterprises with continuous production, medical institutions, pharmacies, convenience stores and all essential establishments will keep working, Putin said.
In Moscow, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that a partial lockdown and other restrictions introduced to halt the spread of the coronavirus would remain in place until May 1.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday that Brazilian society will not be able to stand two or three months of shutdowns to fight the new coronavirus, denouncing social-distancing measures enforced by states and municipalities across the country.
“You know my stance. It will bring massive unemployment,” he told supporters outside the presidential residence in Brasilia.
The death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 299 in Brazil as the number of confirmed cases went from 6,836 to 7,910, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
In the past 24 hours, 59 COVID-19 patients died, raising the mortality rate to 3.8 percent, and 1,074 people tested positive.
Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta on Wednesday said officials were expecting a spike in cases in April.
He urged Brazilians to "redouble" their efforts at social distancing and sheltering in place, saying "this is not the time to waver."
Canada now has more than 10,000 coronavirus cases and the death toll jumped 21 percent to 127 from Wednesday, according to data posted by the country's public health agency on Thursday.
It said the number of cases had risen to 10,132 from 9,017 on Wednesday, at which point 105 people had died.
Austria is introducing a compulsory moratorium on loans to consumers and small companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said on Friday, adding that the measure covers roughly three million loans.
Bluemel also outlined a programme under which the state will guarantee 90 percent of companies' loans of up to 120 million euros or three months' turnover, though that help comes with a ban on dividend payments for a year and a requirement that bonus payments to board members be "strictly limited".
A health worker pushes a man on a stretcher towards a triage tent for suspected COVID-19 patients outside the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, capital of Portugal, April 2, 2020. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)
Portugal's parliament approved the extension of a state of emergency by another 15 days on Thursday to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as the number of deaths from the disease rose over 200.
In addition, the government has ordered all airports to commercial flights and banning domestic travel from April 9-13. Only flights repatriating citizens or transporting goods will be allowed to operate.
People will also not be allowed to travel outside the municipalities where they live during the five-day period, except for work reasons.
After Easter, airports will reopen but flights will only be allowed to transport one third of their passenger capacity.
Portugal has confirmed 9,034 coronavirus cases and 209 deaths, with health authorities expecting the outbreak to plateau at the end of May.
Mexico's deputy health minister said on Thursday there are no plans for border closures even as the country's death toll from the coronavirus jumped to 50 from 37 a day earlier.
However, Lopez-Gatell reiterated earlier calls on Mexicans resident in the United States to not make non-essential visits to Mexico to help avoid spread of the coronavirus.
So far, the Health Ministry has reported 1,510 cases, up by 132 a day earlier.
Mexico's Grupo Modelo said it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries after its business activities were declared non-essential under a government order aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Panama's health ministry said on Thursday it had registered 1,475 coronavirus cases in the Central American country, an increase of 158 from a day earlier.
It also registered five more deaths, bringing the total number to 37.
Panama on Thursday started imposing stricter limits on how often people can leave their homes in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hungary will introduce a new pandemic fund on Saturday and work out the details of the country's biggest economic stimulus package by Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday, adding that the plans focus primarily on employment.
Healthcare workers will receive a 500,000 forint (US$1,500) bonus this year to compensate them for the extra workload and risk that fighting the coronavirus entails, he added.
Romania's centrist minority government will almost certainly postpone a June local election as the coronavirus outbreak ruled out the best conditions for such an exercise, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said late on Thursday.
The European Union state, which has suffered 2,738 virus infections and 115 deaths, declared a state of emergency on March 16 and enforced a lockdown last week.
It is due to hold a local election in late June and a parliamentary election in November.
Also on Thursday, Health Minister Nelu Tataru said movement curbs could gradually be lifted from mid-May.
A man carrying recycling materials walks under a billboard explaining the coronavirus, in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 2, 2020. (THEMBA HADEBE / AP)
Telkom, Samsung and the government have teamed up to develop a track and trace database to identify the whereabouts of people who may have contracted the virus.
Telkom has partnered with Samsung to distribute 1,500 handsets to people hired to track and trace people in the provinces hardest hit by the virus.
In a media briefing late on Thursday, the Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said the government respected everyone's right to privacy and the database would not be used to spy on citizens.
South Africa on Thursday reported 82 new cases, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said, bringing the the total number of infections in the country to 1,462.
The death toll remained at five, Mkhize said. The country has not reported new coronavirus-related deaths since Wednesday.
The officially confirmed death tally did not include the death of world-renowned South African HIV scientist Gita Ramjee who reportedly died of COVID-19 complications in Durban on Tuesday.
More than two thousand people have been nabbed in South Africa for failing to comply with the regulations of the 21-day lockdown, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Rwandan police said Thursday that it will strictly enforce the extended COVID-19 lockdown measures, as the health ministry reported a total of 84 cases after two more people tested positive for the virus.
"Unnecessary movements, sporting activities outside homes, loitering along the roads, many people driving in one vehicle to the market are all not permitted. Whoever breaches any of those will be arrested, imprisoned and fined. Measures remain the same; stay at home," police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera said on national Rwanda television.
Uruguay's Congress voted on Thursday to delay gubernatorial and legislative elections that had been scheduled for May 10, due to the health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A new date for voting will be set by the South American country's Electoral Court, although political parties have already agreed to hold the elections on Oct 4.
The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has caused four deaths in the country, with 350 cases confirmed, according to official data.
Malawi has recorded its first three confirmed cases of the coronavirus, President Peter Mutharika said in an address to the nation on Thursday.
The Slovenian parliament on Thursday passed legislation in the value of about 3 billion euros (US$3.25 billion), or 6 percent of GDP, to help citizens and companies overcome the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic.
Slovenia, an Alpine state of 2 million people, has so far confirmed 897 cases of coronavirus, and 16 people have died.
Ecuador's government said on Thursday it was building a "special camp" for coronavirus victims in the country's largest city of Guayaquil, where an outbreak has killed over 80 people, with many bodies left at home for days.
President Lenin Moreno said the official total of 120 deaths across the Andean nation, among the highest tallies in Latin America, was "short" as authorities had been unable to keep up with the virus' spread.
A unit of police officers and soldiers, tasked with burying coronavirus victims, was now collecting as many as 150 bodies a day from homes in Guayaquil, up from 30 several days ago, Moreno said.
Moreno said the government expected the total number of deaths in Guayaquil's surrounding province of Guayas, home to 3.8 million Ecuadoreans, to reach between 2,500 and 3,500. "We're building a special camp for the fallen," he said.
A further 183 patients had died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours in Belgium, raising the country's death toll to 1,011, according to fresh figures released Thursday by public health institute Sciensano.
In the last 24 hours, Belgium also reported 1,384 new cases of confirmed coronavirus infection, taking the total to 15,348, according to Sciensano Institute which is in charge of monitoring and analyzing COVID-19 data collected from its network of partners.
A patient, left, who walked into the hospital complaining of symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus, is interviewed by a health worker, right, at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, April 2, 2020. (BRIAN INGANGA / AP)
Kenya's health ministry on Thursday confirmed that two more patients have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number to three.
Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary for health, said 29 more people have tested positive to the COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 110.
Kenya's Judiciary said earlier in the day that it has released some 4,800 prisoners who are serving sentences for petty offences to help contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Ukraine’s government on Friday imposed a series of new restrictions designed to prevent the coronavirus outbreak spreading widely but said it hoped to soften the measures again in late April.
Ukraine reported 138 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, taking the total number of infected people to 942 with 23 deaths.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ghana have increased to 204, the Ghana Health Service said here on Thursday.
All the new cases were recorded from the capital Accra.
The West African country has so far recorded five deaths and three full recoveries from COVID-19.
he Netherlands announced a further 148 deaths linked to the coronavirus on Friday, bringing the country’s total to 1,487.
It also confirmed 1,026 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall tally of infections to 15,723, according to the daily report from The National Institute for Health.
Sudan's Health Ministry on Thursday announced a new confirmed COVID-19 case, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to eight, said Sudan's Sovereign Council in a statement.
The country reported its first virus death on March 13.
The Cypriot Foreign Ministry was shut down for disinfection after one diplomat tested positive for the novel coronavirus, both state radio and the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported on Thursday.
State radio reported that the diplomat is the husband of a health professional working at the main hospital treating coronavirus infections with acute symptoms. He was in quarantine and tested positive on Wednesday, but the diplomat went to his office to take some documents, coming into contact with at least four colleagues.
Uganda, which currently has 44 confirmed cases, on Thursday rolled out a comprehensive health plan to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Minister of Health Ruth Aceng said the ministry has put up a team of specialist doctors, including those from the military, to help combat the outbreak. She also said that the government would soon recruit 220 health personnel to be deployed across the country to do case management and surveillance.
The ministry has also decentralized the treatment of positive cases from national to district level. According to the ministry, this would limit the transmission of the disease in the process of transporting the positive cases to the national treatment centers.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Thursday that the number of COVID-19 infections discovered in Egypt so far reached 850.
The Egyptian government decided on Thursday to temporarily stop returning Egyptian expatriates from abroad until making sure they are free from the novel coronavirus, according to the prime minister.
Madbouly said that Egyptian expatriates who were returnning back home would have to spend a 14-day quarantine period at the expense of the government.
The number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 300 in Belarus, the country's health ministry said Thursday.
According to the ministry, 254 coronavirus patients are receiving medical treatment, 46 have been discharged from hospital, and four coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the country.
The death toll from COVID-19 reached 44 in Morocco on Thursday, while the total number of confirmed cases reached 691, the Ministry of Health said.
A total of 30 patients have recovered from the COVID-19, said the ministry's spokesman in a briefing.
Greece reported on Thursday three more deaths linked to the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 53.
The number of confirmed infections rose to 1,514 on Thursday from 1,415 on Wednesday, officials told a regular press briefing at the Health Ministry.
Among the new cases were 23 in a refugee camp, an hour drive north of Athens and 119 people on board a Greek-owned ferry anchored off Piraeus port, they said.
Croatia reported 48 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 1,011 by Thursday afternoon, the National Civil Protection Headquarters said.
Health Minister Vili Beros confirmed the seventh coronavirus fatality and said that 35 patients were on ventilators.
Since the beginning of the outbreak in Croatia, 88 people have recovered.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Algeria has risen to 986, while the death toll has reached 86, according to figures reported on Thursday by Algerian health authorities.
During his daily press briefing, Djamel Fourar, head of the COVID-19 Detection and Follow-up Commission, said that 139 new confirmed cases were registered during the past 24 hours in 40 provinces.
Tunisia reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number in the country reached 455, said Tunisian Ministry of Health on Thursday.
The epidemic has so far affected 22 among the 24 provinces of the country, while the 14 deaths are from 10 provinces, it added.
Two more members of the National Assembly of Bulgaria tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number to three in the 240-seat institution, an official announcement said.
Daniela Anastasova Daritkova-Prodanova, chairperson of the parliamentary group of the GERB party and chairperson of the Healthcare Committee, has tested positive for coronavirus, the GERB party said in a statement on its website.
The other infected lawmaker was Daniela Maleshkova, who is a member of the same parliamentary group, according to the statement.
A total of 457 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the country so far, of which 10 died.
Libya's National Center for Disease Control on Thursday announced the country's first death from COVID-19.
"The Reference Laboratory of Society Health of the National Center for Disease Control received a sample taken from an 85-year-old woman after she passed away. The sample tested positive for the new coronavirus," the center said in a statement.
"This is the first recorded death from the new coronavirus in Libya," the statement reads.
The Swiss government is doubling the size of its coronavirus emergency loan scheme to 40 billion Swiss francs (US$40.94 billion) after being flooded by requests for help by businesses, it said on Friday.
The government said it was expanding bridging loan guarantees from an initial 20 billion francs after banks made loans of 14.3 billion francs in the first few days of the scheme. So far more than 76,000 agreements have been made, the government said.
The Swiss death toll from coronavirus has reached 484, the country’s public health ministry said on Friday, rising from 432 people on Thursday.
The number of people who have tested positive for infections also increased to 19,303 from 18,267 on Thursday, it said.
The Nigerian government said on Friday that the number of COVID-19 infections discovered in the West African nation has so far reached 190.
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