Healthcare and emergency workers react as people cheer and applaud to show their gratitude to medical staff and essential workers outside NYU Langone Health hospital on April 23, 2020 in New York City, US. (PHOTO / AFP)
LONDON / BRASILIA / TRIPOLI / CAPE TOWN / BRUSSELS / PARIS / ROME — With the US coronavirus death toll topping 51,000 and nearly one in six workers out of a job, Georgia, Oklahoma and several other states took tentative steps at reopening businesses on Friday, despite disapproval from President Donald Trump and medical experts.
Fitness clubs, hair salons, tattoo parlors and some other workplaces were allowed to open their doors by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, disregarding warnings from public health officials that easing restrictions too soon could lead to more infections and deaths.
Georgia, one of several states in the Deep South that waited until early April to mandate restrictions imposed weeks before across much of the rest of the country to curb the outbreak, has become a flashpoint in the debate over how and when the nation should return to work.
While the COVID-19 illness is killing thousands of Americans daily, stay-at-home orders and business closures have thrown more than 26 million people out of work, a level of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The US death toll from COVID-19, the highest in the world, surpassed 51,000 on Friday, having doubled in 10 days, according to a Reuters tally, and the number of Americans known to be infected surpassed 900,000.
Trump, who had staked his November re-election on the nation’s booming economy before the pandemic, has given mixed signals about when and how the country should begin to get back to work.
Close to 20,000 people have died in hospital in the United Kingdom after testing positive for the new coronavirus, data showed on Friday, as Britain approached a milestone it had hoped never to reach.
As the death toll rose relentlessly, speculation mounted that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who himself spent three nights in intensive care battling COVID-19 earlier this month, would soon get back to work after US President Donald Trump said he “sounded incredible” on the phone.
Whenever Johnson does return, he will face the conundrum of how to come out of a lockdown that is destroying swathes of the economy, while avoiding a deadly second wave of infections.
A further 222 people had died of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours in Ireland, bringing the country's death toll to 1,014, according to figures released on Friday by the Irish Department of Health.
The department also reported another 577 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the day, bringing the total cases to 18,184.
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced the gradual de-confinement measures in three phases at the end of a National Security Council meeting on Friday.
An agreement was reached at a 7-hour meeting by the National Security Council (NSC), which decided on the lockdown measures to contain the new coronavirus as well as their extensions until May 3.
France on Friday registered 389 deaths caused by the coronavirus, bringing the tally to 22,245, the world's fourth-highest after the United States, Italy and Spain, Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon told a daily conference on the epidemic.
The number of people who succumbed to the COVID-19 increased by 1.8 percent on a daily basis, lower than 2.4 percent on Thursday and 2.6 percent on Wednesday.
In another sign of encouragement and hope, Italy reported 420 new deaths related to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the smallest daily increase since March 18, fresh figures showed on Friday.
The new deaths raised the nationwide fatalities to 25,969 since the pandemic first broke out in northern Italy on Feb. 21, according to figures from the country's Civil Protection Department.
Affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the mortality number in Switzerland has increased 22 percent compared with the previous years over the four weeks between mid-March and mid-April, according to figures released by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office Friday.
The figures showed that in Ticino, the first affected Swiss canton bordering Italy, the deaths have risen by 98 percent, almost doubled than usual.
In the country's Southern canton of Geneva, the deaths increased by 72 percent than the average level of previous years, according to the calculation of local media on Friday.
However, the figures also showed that the number of deaths from all causes did not change much in Switzerland's German-speaking cantons.
Ahead of the country's first phase of measures to relax containment on next Monday, Daniel Koch, delegate of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), called on the public to continue to show a "sense of responsibility" and strictly follow the rules of social distancing and hand hygiene.
"The trend in the number of cases is good, but we do not want it to rise again," Koch told a news conference on Friday.
As of Friday, the country with a population of 8.5 million has reported a total of 28,677 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,309 deaths, according to FOPH.
Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,055 to 152,438, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday - a second day of deceleration after three days of acceleration in new infections.
On Friday confirmed coronavirus cases had increased by 2,337.
The reported death toll rose by 179 to 5,500, the tally showed on Saturday.
Spain registered 367 new deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours until 21:00 local time on Thursday, bringing the country's total death toll from the coronavirus-caused disease to 22,524, the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services said on Friday.
The daily death number is 73 fewer than the 440 deaths reported for the previous 24-hour period and brings an end to three consecutive days of rising.
Ukraine on Friday has reported a total of 7,647 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 193 deaths, the country's health ministry said.
In the past 24 hours, 477 people have tested positive for COVID-19, while 505 patients have recovered. Currently, a total of 2,489 coronavirus patients are hospitalized, including 109 children and 244 health workers. Among them, 103 people, including one child, are using ventilators.
The Eastern European country of Moldova reported 184 new cases of COVID-19 infection and four new deaths over the past 24 hours, raising the total confirmed cases to 3,110 and 84 dead, fresh figures showed on Friday.
According to Health, Labor and Social Protection Minister Viorica Dumbraveanu, 857 tests have been processed over the last 24 hours and 184 received positive results. Among the new infections, one was an imported case from Russia, while the rest were local transmissions.
Meanwhile, 755 recoveries were reported, while 212 others were in serious or critical condition.
Cypriot Health Ministry announced one more coronavirus death and nine new cases on Friday, raising the death toll to 19 and total cases to 804.
According to the Nicosia scientific director of state health services (Okypy) Marios Loizou, the mortality is 2.2 percent of all patients and 1.9 per 100,000 people.
Belarus expects an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the country's deputy health minister said Friday.
Belarus will carry out 100,000 rapid tests for COVID-19 in the near future, which could lead to a larger number of registered cases, Elena Bogdan said at a press briefing.
Taking into account peculiarities of the epidemic -- as many as 80-87 percent of the people infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms or mild symptoms -- Belarus is setting out to detect as many cases as possible, she said.
Brazil has registered 357 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Friday, taking the death toll to at least 3,670 as confirmed cases rose to nearly 53,000.
The Chilean Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday 12,306 cases of COVID-19 and 174 deaths since the novel coronavirus began in the country.
According to the latest report which was compiled at 9:00 pm local time on Thursday, there were 494 new cases and six more deaths from the virus.
The ministry's undersecretary of assistance networks, Arturo Zuniga, said that there were 415 people hospitalized in intensive care units, 325 on ventilators, and 83 in critical condition.
The total number of patients that had recovered from the disease was 6,327, a number that exceeded active cases for the first time.
The number of cases of the novel coronavirus in Ecuador has doubled to 22,719 after results from thousands of backlogged tests were obtained, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said on Friday.
Romo explained that to date, 56,513 tests had been administered for COVID-19, of which 22,719 came back positive.
Romo said that the number of those infected grew significantly due to tests being backlogged, but that this "does not mean a resurgence of the virus."
The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Saturday announced one new COVID-19 case, bringing the number of total cases in the country to 61.
The center said it tested 82 suspected samples, 81 of which were negative and one was positive.
The total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Libya include 18 recoveries and two deaths.
South Africa's COVID-19 confirmed cases surged to 4,220 on Friday, up 267 from Thursday's figure, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
Meanwhile, four more deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 79, said Mkhize.
Western Cape Province has recorded a total of 30 deaths, the highest among all nine provinces. The province also remains the epicenter of the virus outbreak with 1,413 cases.
A total of 152,390 tests have been conducted nationwide, Mkhize said, with 1,473 recoveries recorded across the country.
The Tunisian Ministry of Health reported on Friday night 4 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of the infected to 922 in the country.
A total of 194 patients have recovered in Tunisia while 38 deaths were reported in 13 provinces, according to the statement.
Algerian health authorities on Friday reported 120 new infections from the novel coronavirus pandemic, in addition to eight new death cases over the past 24 hours.
In his daily press briefing, Head of the Detection and Follow-up Commission Djamel Fourar told reporters that the total infections from COVID-19 in Algeria reached 3,127, while the total death toll increased to 415 cases.
Fourar said that the number of recovery cases has increased to 1,408 after 53 patients have been discharged during the past 24 hours.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus reached 158 in Morocco among the 3,758 confirmed cases, the Health Ministry said on Friday.
A total of 190 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Friday, while 486 patients have recovered so far, said the ministry's spokesman in his daily briefing.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone has reached 82 with 18 new cases confirmed on Friday, said its health authorities.
The West African country has already seen a total of 10 people recovered, it added.
The Ministry of Health of Mozambique (MISAU) announced on Friday that 19 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 65.
Rosa Marlene, National Director of Public Health, when speaking at a press conference in Maputo, said that out of the 65 cases, 57 are from local transmission and 8 are imported.
Nigerian government on Saturday said it has deployed COVID-19 starter packs to all tertiary health institutions and federal medical centers as the country experiences increase in cases.
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this in a statement reaching Xinhua in Lagos, Nigeria's economic hub, said the starter packs consist of medical
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