A street cleaning truck sprays disinfectant on a street in central Rome, Italy, April 8, 2020. (CECILIA FABIANO / LAPRESSE VIA AP)
NEW YORK / MEXICO CITY / CAPE TOWN / LONDON / BRUSSELS / QUITO / SANTIAGO / PRAGUE / BUENOS AIRES / GENEVA / ROME / MOGADISHU / VALLETTA / CAIRO / MONROVIA / KIEV / KINSHASA / BERLIN / WARSAW / MADRID / MOSCOW / SOFIA / BUDAPEST / LILONGWE / LAGOS / OTTAWA / GABORONE - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally surpassed 1.5 million on Wednesday afternoon local time, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The fresh figure reached 1,500,830 as of 5:15 pm (2115 GMT) with 87,706 deaths, the CSSE said.
The United States led the world with 423,135 cases. Spain and Italy followed with 152,446 and 139,422 cases, respectively. Countries with over 100,000 cases also include France and Germany, according to the data compiled by the CSSE.
Over 180 countries and regions have been impacted by the novel coronavirus, and more than 317,800 people have recovered from the disease, according to the data.
A drive-through COVID-19 testing site is seen in Landover, Maryland, US, on April 8, 2020. (TING SHEN / XINHUA)
All Botswana’s parliamentarians including President Mokgweetsi Masisi will be quarantined for 14 days and tested for the new coronavirus, after a health worker screening lawmakers for the virus herself tested positive.
The health worker had checked the temperatures of some of the lawmakers on Wednesday during a special sitting of parliament, which was called to debate a proposal by Masisi to extend a state of emergency to six months.
Health Minister Lemogang Kwape told parliamentarians on Thursday that the health worker had tested positive for COVID-19 overnight, one of seven new confirmed cases that brought the total in the southern African country to 13.
The Canadian death toll from the coronavirus outbreak could hit 22,000 by the end of the pandemic, health officials said on Thursday, while the economy lost a record 1 million jobs.
Officials outlined the two most likely scenarios, showing that between 11,000 and 22,000 people would die. The total number of positive diagnoses ranged from 934,000 to 1.9 million.
The officials told a briefing that they expected between 500 and 700 people to die by April 16. The death toll so far is 435, with 18,447 positive diagnoses.
New York, the hardest-hit state in America, on Wednesday reported its highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single day with even veteran doctors and nurses expressing shock at the speed with which patients were declining and dying.
The number of coronavirus cases in New York state alone approached 150,000 on Wednesday, even as authorities warned the state's official death tally may understate the true number.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said 779 people died in the past day in his state. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said 275 had died there. Both totals exceeded one-day records reported just a day earlier.
US deaths due to coronavirus topped 14,600 on Wednesday, the second-highest reported number in the world behind Italy, according to a Reuters tally.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would like to reopen the US economy with a "big bang" but not before the death toll is on the down slope.
Trump did not give a timeframe but his chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said on Tuesday it was possible this could happen in four to eight weeks.
The European Union (EU) on Wednesday proposed prolonging travel restriction at its external borders.
The European Commission said in a statement that it has called on Schengen Member States and Schengen Associated States to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until May 15.
The experience of the countries exposed to the pandemic "shows the measures applied to fight the spread of the virus require more than 30 days to be effective," according to the statement.
"While we can see encouraging first results, prolonging the travel restriction is necessary to continue reducing the risks of the disease spreading further. We should not yet let the door open whilst we are securing our house," said Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting European Way of Life.
Meanwhile, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen urged EU states to lift export bans on medicines to avoid causing shortages in the bloc.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Spain has surpassed 15,000, the Spanish government said Thursday, adding it expects a decline in the country's epidemic.
As of Wednesday night, the number of deaths from the virus had risen by 683 to 15,238, the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services said. The daily count of deaths slightly dropped from 757 the previous day.
The total number of confirmed cases increased by 5,756 to 152,446, registering a 3.9-percent hike, down from the 4.4-percent rise 24 hours earlier.
Italy may start lifting some restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus by the end of April provided the slowing trend of the epidemic continues, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the BBC in an interview on Thursday.
“We need to pick sectors that can restart their activity. If scientists confirm it, we might begin to relax some measures already by the end of this month,” Conte said.
Conte warned that Italy cannot lower its guard and that the national lockdown imposed on March 9 could only be eased gradually.
The pandemic has claimed 17,669 lives in locked-down Italy as of Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries to 139,422, according to latest data released by the country's Civil Protection Department.
Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli said that there were 1,195 new infections, bringing the nationwide total to 95,262 cases. A total of 542 more fatalities were reported on Wednesday.
There were 2,099 new recoveries compared to Tuesday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 26,491.
Borrelli stressed that "50 percent of the recoveries since the beginning of the emergency have occurred over the past 10 days," adding that the number of recoveries over the past 24 hours constitutes "a new record".
This photo taken on April 8, 2020 shows signs at a Tesco's store to encourage social distancing in London, Britain. (TIM IRELAND / XINHUA)
UK authorities relaxed rules on daily exercise and travel during the coronavirus pandemic for those with specific conditions such as autism after complaints.
The rule change applies to people with a health condition that requires them to get outside two to three times a day to maintain their health, as well as their carers, according to the new guidance from the U.K.’s Cabinet Office. This could include travel “beyond your local area,” the government said.
Those without specific medical needs are permitted to exercise outdoors once a day, and are advised to use open spaces near their home.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was getting better on Thursday after spending a third night in intensive care where he is battling COVID-19 as his government extended its overdraft facility and reviewed the most stringent shut down in peacetime history.
The UK which has suffered more than 7,000 deaths from the virus so far, is likely to keep restrictions in place for weeks longer.
France reported some positive coronavirus-linked data on Wednesday, with the increase of hospital death fatalities slowing again, but the presidential palace said nonetheless the national lockdown aimed at containing the disease would be extended.
The lockdown, that took effect on March 17 and has already been extended once, will now go beyond April 15.
French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation regarding the coronavirus situation on Monday evening, the presidential palace added.
France recorded 541 more deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours, bringing the toll in sanitary establishments to 7,632, state health agency director Jerome Salomon said. But he added the day's figures were incomplete because, due to technical issues, authorities were not able to register nursing homes data, which account for more than 30 percent of total fatalities.
The total death toll, including Tuesday's nursing homes' figures, stands at 10,869.
Salomon also said that there were now 7,148 people in intensive care, an increase of 17 from the day earlier - the lowest daily increase recorded in weeks - which offered the French health system a much-needed relief.
In total, 21,254 patients in France have recovered.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday rejected demands by Italy for common euro zone bonds to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, adding that Germany would back other instruments to help countries hard-hit by the crisis.
“I spoke today with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for a long time and we agree that there is an urgent need for solidarity in Europe, which is going through one of its most difficult hours, if not the most difficult,” Merkel said.
“And Germany is ready for this solidarity and committed to it. Germany’s wellbeing depends on Europe being well. Now, which instruments are fit for this purpose, here there are different views. You know that I don’t believe we should have common debt because of the situation of our political union and that’s why we reject this,” she added during a news conference.
“But there are so many ways to show solidarity and I believe we will find a good solution.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,974 in the past 24 hours to 108,202 on Thursday, climbing for the third straight day after four previous days of drops, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.
The reported death toll rose by 246 to 2,107.
Russia's COVID-19 cases grew by a new daily record of 1,459 in the last 24 hours to reach 10,131 on Thursday, covering most regions of the country, official data showed.
The death toll rose to 76 from the previous day's 63, and 698 people have recovered, including 118 in the last 24 hours, Russia's coronavirus response center said in a statement.
Moscow, the worst hit part of the country, confirmed 857 new cases in the last 24 hours, totaling 6,698.
Portugal's parliament temporarily suspended electricity, water and gas shutoffs and granted partial pardon to some of its prisoners on Wednesday as the country moved to contain the economic and social damage of the coronavirus outbreak.
Portugal, currently in its third week of a nationwide state of emergency, has so far reported 13,141 confirmed cases and 380 deaths.
Brazil's Ministry of Health said Wednesday that a total of 15,927 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country with 800 deaths.
The mortality rate stood at 5 percent.
Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said at a press conference that a task force made up of several Brazilian companies has been established to accelerate the production of respirators, with the delivery of 6,500 pieces of equipment expected in 90 days.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) registered a total of 207 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, up 24 from the previous day, according to the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB).
According to the INRB, 20 people have died, and 10 have recovered. Among the 24 newly confirmed cases, 23 are in the capital city of Kinshasa, while the other one is an imported case.
South Africa reported on Wednesday five more deaths from the coronavirus, the highest number in a single day, pushing the country's death toll to 18, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
The total number of infections rose to 1,845, up by 96 from Tuesday, Mkhize said.
Later on Wednesday, South African public sector union NEHAWU said ihas withdrawn a court case against the government over shortages of protective gear for front line health workers treating coronavirus patients after meeting the health minister.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union launched the case to try to force the government to ensure adequate supplies of vital equipment such as masks and gloves.
"We have taken a decision to discontinue with the legal course of action since there is now a commitment to address our concerns," the union said in a statement.
Somalia's Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 12.
The new cases came hours after the ministry confirmed the country's first death.
Mexico might have 26,500 people infected with the coronavirus, a senior health official said on Wednesday, citing government models.
Mexico has reported 3,181 confirmed cases of the virus, but many who are infected likely did not have symptoms or were not diagnosed, said Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell.
The estimate of 26,500 cases is based on a model called "Sentinel Surveillance," which uses the number of cases in 375 health districts to extrapolate for the rest of the country, Lopez-Gatell said.
Mexico reported 396 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, while the number of deaths rose to 174.
Honduras will extend its national curfew to April 19 as the country ramps up efforts to contain the coronavirus, the security ministry said on Wednesday.
The Central American country registered 31 new cases of the virus, bringing its total to 343 cases and 23 deaths, the system for risk prevention said.
This photo taken on April 8, 2020 shows an empty street in the center of Tripoli, Libya. (HAMZA TURKIA / XINHUA)
Six patients have recovered from COVID-19 in Libya, the National Center for Disease Control of Libya's UN-backed government said on Wednesday.
A total of 21 cases have so far been reported in Libya with one death, the center said.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday said the military has started manufacturing N95 face masks and surgical masks to address a current shortage as the country strives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Museveni said in a televised address that the National Enterprise Corporation, the army's business arm, will supply 1 million surgical masks and 50,000 N95 masks.
Uganda currently has 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Nigeria's health authorities said Wednesday night that there were 22 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's tally to 276.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said that 44 patients had recovered from COVID-19.
Malawi needs nearly US$194 million to foot a national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan worth US$203 million, Health Minister Jappie Mhango said Wednesday.
The minister disclosed this during the official launch of the plan in Malawi capital, Lilongwe, where he sounded an SOS and appealed for support.
"The resource gap is evidently huge, considering that as of 7th April, 2020, the country had already registered eight confirmed cases, with one death; and the virus may further spread to most parts of the country owing to the fact that the infected may have made contact with several people before testing positive." he said.
"The current modeling on the potential impact of the coronavirus shows that, without necessary interventions, Malawi can be hit hard by the virus and the mortality can be up to 50,000 deaths," said the minister.
Liberian President George Weah on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Under the order, which takes effect from 11:59 pm on Friday, citizens as well as foreigners across the country are expected to stay at home for an initial period of 21 days, Weah said in a national broadcast.
During the shelter-in-place period, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for medical purposes or to get essential commodities, including food items and gasoline, he said. Only one member of a household is expected to visit provision and grocery shops and markets for an hour every day, during the period, Weah said.
Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world, has recorded 14 cases of the COVID-19. Among them, three deaths have been recorded, three persons had recovered, and there are eight active cases.
To support its battered economy, Poland will ease some restrictions aimed at fighting the coronavirus after Easter, Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said on Thursday.
Poland has closed schools, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas among other moves to contain the virus.
Economists expect the economy to shrink 3.5 percent this year, triggering a sharp rise in unemployment from the current level of 5.5 percent.
By Thursday, 5,341 people had been infected with the virus, with 164 dead in the country of 38 million people.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria topped 611, head of the national coronavirus task force Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski said here on Thursday.
The number has increased by 30 from Wednesday morning, Mutafchiyski said, adding that 33 medical staff have been infected so far.
Twenty-four deaths have been recorded in the country.
Hungary has registered more than 100 coronavirus infections in an elderly people's home in Budapest, Suregon General Cecilia Muller told an online news briefing on Thursday.
The facility, maintained by the Budapest municipal council, has a capacity of 544 people according to figures published on its website.
Muller said several elderly people were infected in another facility in Budapest but the number of cases was in the single digits.
The Czech Republic on Wednesday reported that confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country had surpassed 5,000, but health officials are confident that measures can soon be lifted.
"Recent developments have shown that we have managed to stop the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus and can prepare for a gradual and controlled return to normal life," Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Twitter after a press briefing.
Vojtech projected that the country could have 10,600 cases by the end of April at the current infection rate.
As of Wednesday evening, the country has had 5,221 cases, with 233 recoveries and 99 deaths.
Navy policemen stand guard during an operation to ensure that citizens abide by the curfew declared by the government due to the coronavirus pandemic, in El Callao, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, April 8, 2020. (RODRIGO ABD / AP)
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Wednesday extended the country's state of emergency declared to contain the novel coronavirus for two more weeks to April 26.
Vizcarra announced the extension, which includes a nationwide quarantine in the world's second largest copper producer, as it reached 2,954 confirmed cases of the virus and 107 deaths. The first confirmed case in Peru was on March 6.
"We cannot let our guard down, we cannot reduce the effort we are making and the gains we are achieving just as we reach the most difficult stage," Vizcarra said in a speech broadcast on television.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Wednesday presented the second phase of his Emergency Economic Plan, which earmarks US$2 billion for low-income households and small companies struggling through the coronavirus outbreak.
The emergency package, initially announced March 19, makes US$12 billion, about 5 percent of Chile's GDP, available to keep companies and workers afloat.
Chile has 5,546 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths from the disease, the Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday.
Ecuador's Public Health Ministry on Wednesday reported that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 4,450, and the death toll has increased to 242.
The ministry said it noted an exponential increase in the rate of infection, as 455 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours, and 22 more patients died, registering the highest numbers since the start of the outbreak in Ecuador on Feb 29.
Some 68.5 percent of Ecuador's total cases are concentrated in the southwest province of Guayas, home to the bustling port of Guayaquil.
Considered the epicenter of the outbreak in Ecuador, Guayas has 3,047 cases of infection and 144 deaths.
Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez on Wednesday announced he was stepping up COVID-19 containment measures in major cities, including extending a shelter-in-place order due to end on April 12.
"The quarantine must continue because ... we have only succeeded in flattening the curve (of the infection rate) and made it slower," Fernandez said in an interview on TV Channel 13.
Meanwhile, banks and financial institutions will be allowed to resume operations next week, but with protocols in place similar to those being used at supermarkets.
The country has reported 1,715 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 60 deaths as of Wednesday noon.
Colombia's capital Bogota will restrict outings to buy supplies or carry out financial transactions by gender beginning Monday, the mayor's office said in a decree on Wednesday.
From April 13 onward, women will be allowed out to shop for food, cleaning supplies and medications and to visit banks and notaries on even-numbered days. Men will be allowed out on odd-numbered ones.
The Swiss government will look at temporarily changing its bankruptcy laws to protect companies hit by cash-flow problems and mounting debts during the coronavirus crisis, it said on Thursday.
The Swiss government also said that a halt on debt collections and a so-called court holiday in which cases were put on hold would end on April 19.
The Swiss Federal Council announced on Wednesday to extend the confinement measures against COVID-19 until April 26, adding one week to the original date of termination.
President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommarug said that customs duties on anti-epidemic medical goods will be suspended till Oct 9, in order to make sure that health workers and patients have easy access to masks, disinfectants and other protective equipment.
As of Wednesday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 22,789 in Switzerland, and the death toll stands at 705.
The Egyptian Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 110 new infections and nine deaths of COVID-19, raising the total number of cases in the country to 1,560, including 103 deaths.
Earlier on Wednesday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced the extension of the nationwide nighttime curfew that started on March 25 for another two weeks until April 23, but he said it will be reduced from 11 hours to 10.
Malta has reported its first death from the coronavirus, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne announced on Wednesday evening.
The victim, a 92-year-old woman who lived on the sister island of Gozo, died at the General Hospital. Fearne said the woman had suffered from heart and kidney conditions, was diabetic, and had tested positive for COVID-19.
Malta's first coronavirus case was registered on March 7 and just under 300 people have so far tested positive.
Algeria on Wednesday reported 12 more deaths from COVID-19 and 104 new infections.
Head of COVID-19 Detection and Follow-up Commission Djamel Fourar told reporters the death toll now stands at 205, while the total number of cases has reached 1,572.
A total of 91 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Morocco on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,275, the Health Ministry said.
The death toll has reached 93, while the number of recoveries stood at 97, the ministry said.
Morocco has made the wearing of face masks compulsory for all people outside their homes starting Tuesday. Any offender will be prosecuted and liable to the legal penalties, ranging from one to three months in jail and a fine between US$30 and US$130.
Cyprus's Health Ministry announced 32 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, pushing the country's tally to 526.
"An analysis of infections showed that "there are asymptomatic people going around out there" who are a big danger for the community," said Leondios Kostrikis, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus and member of the Health Ministry's advisory body on the pandemic.
"This means that movement restrictions must continue and people must continuously take care of their personal hygiene," Kostrikis added.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Ukraine rose to 57 on Thursday, and the total cases reached 1,892, the country's health ministry said.
According to the ministry, 224 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ukraine in the last 24 hours and 45 patients have recovered.
Five people in the Ukrainian armed forces have tested positive for COVID-19, including one death, the press service of Ukraine's Medical Forces Command reported Wednesday.
At present, 118 troops are under isolation, the press service added.
Deputy Health Minister Viktor Liashko has said COVID-19 infections in the country may peak on April 14.
The Lithuanian government on Wednesday extended the nationwide quarantine until April 27 with additional measures to prevent breaches of the lockdown and ensure people's safety.
Lithuanians will be banned from leaving their municipality of residence between 8 pm on April 10 and 8 pm on April 13. Three thousand police and other service officers will be deployed to enforce the lockdown, and 300 checkpoints will be set up, the government said.
In addition, as of April 10, the wearing of personal protective equipment will be mandatory. People will be obliged to cover their nose and mouth.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Lithuania climbed to 912 by Wednesday morning. Fifteen people have died and eight have recovered.
Mozambique's health ministry announced on Wednesday that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 had risen from 10 to 17 in the country.
Ghana's confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 313 with 26 new cases confirmed, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) announced here on Wednesday.
The GHS said the death toll has also increased to six, with one more death among the recorded cases.
HONG KONG NEWS