Published: 11:05, April 8, 2020 | Updated: 05:06, June 6, 2023
Health minister: Spain has reached 'peak of contagion'
By Agencies

Women wearing face masks walk past a billboard with a work by local artist Mark Titchner in east London, April 7, 2020. (MATT DUNHAM / AP)

NEW YORK / WASHINGTON / LONDON / OTTAWA / ZURICH / JOHANNESBURG / PORT AU-PRINCE / OSLO / MEXICO CITY / RIGA / BRUSSELS / BENGHAZI / CAIRO / PRAGUE / JUBA / ALGIERS / TEGUCIGALPA / LIMA / MOSCOW / ROME / ADDIS ABABA / MADRID / GENEVA / KIEV / WARSAW - Spain has "reached the peak of contagion," Health Minister Salvador Illa said Wednesday, although the country recorded a rise of new COVID-19 cases and deaths for a second day after four straight days of decline.

The total number of cases rose by 6,180 to 146,690, according to the daily data published by the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services.

The number of daily coronavirus deaths rose in Spain for the second day on Wednesday as 757 people died over the past 24 hours, though the pace of the proportional daily increase in the death toll slowed down slightly, the health ministry said.

The number of total fatalities caused by the new coronavirus in Spain rose to 14,555 on Wednesday, the ministry said. The daily increase as a percentage of the total death toll was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent the day before, when 743 people died.

The overall detected cases in the country rose to 146,690 from 140,510 on Tuesday, it added.

Dr Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO Director-General, returning from a trip to one of the worst-hit countries, Spain, said it was too early to speak of optimism, but that the outbreak there was "definitely slowing down".

Global toll

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.4 million people worldwide as the global death toll from COVID-19 exceeded 82,000 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

By 0330 GMT on Wednesday, the death toll worldwide stood at 82,119 as the global tally of cases reached 1,430,141, while more than 301,130 people have recovered, an interactive map maintained by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering showed.

Meanawhile, the World Health Organization's regional director described the outbreak of coronavirus in Europe as "very concerning" on Wednesday and urged governments to give "very careful consideration" before relaxing measures to control its spread.

"A dramatic rise in cases across the Atlantic skews what remains a very concerning picture in Europe," Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a virtual briefing. "We still have a long way to go in the marathon."


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care and was in a stable condition on Wednesday after receiving oxygen support for COVID-19 complications, raising questions about how key decisions would be taken in his absence.

The 55-year-old British leader received oxygen support but was not put on a ventilator and his designated deputy, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, said he would soon be back at the helm.

He is comfortable, he's stable, he's in good spirits.

Edward Argar, Junior health minister, UK

"He is comfortable, he's stable, he's in good spirits," Edward Argar, a junior health minister, said on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: UK's Johnson 'stable' in ICU after receiving oxygen support

As Johnson battled the novel coronavirus in hospital, the United Kingdom was entering what scientists said was the deadliest phase of the outbreak and grappling with the question of when to lift the lockdown.

The United Kingdom’s total hospital deaths from COVID-19 rose by a record 786 to 6,159 as of 1600 GMT on April 6, the latest publicly available death toll, though just 213,181 people out of the population of around 68 million have been tested.

Data gathered from 2 million people in Britain using a new COVID-19 symptom tracker app suggests lockdown measures are slowing the spread of the disease, researchers said on Wednesday.

A man reads a newspaper with the headline "'PM in intensive care", outside St Thomas' Hospital in central London, April 7, 2020. (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / AP)

As of Tuesday morning, the number of confirmed cases in Britain hit 55,242, up 3,634 in the past 24 hours, said the department.

The government is due to decide early next week whether to start easing a near-total economic and social lockdown meant to stem transmission of the virus.

Meanwhile, Britain's markets watchdog set out temporary measures on Wednesday to help companies raise cash quickly to weather the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered much of the economy.

The Netherlands

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 969 to 20,549 as of Wednesday, health authorities said, with 147 new deaths.

The country’s total death toll from the disease is now 2,248, the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in a daily update.


The US state of New York lost 731 lives to COVID-19 from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the state's death toll to 5,489 while marking the deadliest 24 hours yet since the pandemic took hold here, said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the numbers of daily incubations and ICU admissions declined for another day, and the state is reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations, which are all "good news," said Cuomo.

The number of deaths "is a lagging indicator to the number of hospitalizations," explained Cuomo, emphasizing that the flattening of the curve is still just a projection.

"Let's not get complacent," Cuomo said at a news conference. "Social distancing is working. ... That's why you see those numbers coming down."

ALSO READ: Vigilance urged as outbreak shows signs of leveling off in NY

For the United States overall, the tally of known coronavirus infections approached 400,000 on Tuesday, with the number of deaths surpassing 12,700 in a record single-day jump of 1,939 nationwide.

Passengers wearing face masks board a train at the Alantic Avenue station in the Brooklyn borough of New York, April 7, 2020. (FRANK FRANKLIN II / AP)

The governors of Illinois and Louisiana - two other hot spots in the US pandemic - likewise paired reports of record jumps in COVID-19 deaths with data suggesting the contagion may be reaching a plateau.

In another glimmer of good news, the US surgeon general, Jerome Adams, said on Tuesday the pandemic may end up killing fewer Americans than the range of 100,000 to 240,000 projected earlier by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Donald Trump reiterated at a White House briefing he wanted to reopen the US economy soon.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that non-medical essential workers and customers at businesses in the city will be required to cover their faces starting from Friday to help curb the spread of COVID-19.


The president of the European Union (EU)'s main science organization has quit the post he took up only in January, the European Commission said, over frustration at the EU response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mauro Ferrari, who became head of the European Research Council for a four-year mandate on Jan 1, submitted his resignation on Tuesday, which the commission said was effective immediately.

"The commission regrets the resignation of Professor Ferrari at this early stage in his mandate as ERC President," a spokesman said.

In a statement to the Financial Times, Ferrari cited institutional resistance and bureaucratic infighting in the EU's complex structures to his proposal for a big scientific program to fight the coronavirus.


France should extend its lockdown period for several weeks in order to contain the coronavirus epidemic, the head of the medical council advising the government said on France Info radio on Wednesday.

France on Tuesday officially registered more than 10,000 deaths from coronavirus infections, making it the fourth country to cross that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States.

Jerome Salomon, head of the public health authority, said the number of people who have died in French hospitals after contracting the coronavirus had risen to a cumulative total of 7,091. But if partial data on deaths in nursing homes is included, the death toll from the disease is now 10,328, he said.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in hospitals is now 78,167, and the number of confirmed or possible cases in nursing homes is 30,902.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said the unwinding of the lockdown, which at this stage is supposed to run until April 15, would not "happen overnight".

Meanwhile, French ministers said on Wednesday that the government is working on a smartphone app that could warn users if they came into contact with a coronavirus carrier.

Also on Wednesday, the French armed forces ministry said France's flagship military aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, is on its way back to port after some staff on board showed signs of COVID-19 symptoms.


Italian ports cannot be considered safe because of the coronavirus epidemic and will not let charity migrant boats dock, the government has ruled.

The decision was taken late on Tuesday after a ship operated by the German non-governmental group Sea-Eye picked up some 150 people off Libya and headed towards Italy.

"For the entire duration of the national health emergency caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Italian ports cannot guarantee the requisites needed to be classified and defined as a place of safety," a decree reads.

The national emergency is set to expire on July 31, but the deadline might be extended.

A total of 17,127 people have died from the virus in Italy, the highest number anywhere in the world, while 135,586 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak came to light on Feb 21.

A woman wearing a protective mask walks past cherry blossoms trees on Heer street in Bonn, Germany, April 7, 2020. (ULRICH HUFNAGEL / XINHUA)


The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,003 in the past 24 hours to 103,228 on Wednesday, climbing for the second straight day after four previous days of drops, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 254 to 1,861.

The minister president of German state Bavaria, Markus Soeder, said Tuesday that it was "highly likely" that the wearing of protective masks would become mandatory.

Compared with other German states, Bavaria is particularly affected by the coronavirus, according to RKI data.

However, a "positive trend" could be seen in the development of the spread of the novel coronavirus because of the imposed measures such as a limited curfew, said Soeder.


Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, his office said on Twitter.

"Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency," Abiy's office said.

Ethiopia has recorded 52 confirmed cases and two deaths.


Botswana has drafted an economic blueprint in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wilfred Mandlebe, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning on Tuesday said the initiative included a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support workers and business stability, and aimed to ensure availability of strategic reserves and promotion of opportunities for economic diversification.

He said the response strategy has several interventions, and is also expected to reduce the country's import bill.


Canada will keep up efforts to persuade the United States not to block the export of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, while the energy-producing province of Alberta warned of an economic disaster.

Trudeau said at a briefing that 500,000 N95 surgical masks from Saint Paul, Minnesota-based 3M Co - part of a batch of 4 million ordered by the province of Ontario - should arrive on Wednesday.

The Canadian death toll rose to 345 from 293 on Monday, officials said. The total number of cases was 17,063, compared with 15,822 a day earlier.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Poland has reached the 5,000 mark, the country's health ministry said on Wednesday.

As of early Wednesday, the country recorded 5,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 136 deaths in total.

Tuesday saw 435 new COVID-19 cases, the second-largest daily increase in confirmed infections, and 22 new deaths from the virus, the largest daily increase.


The Swiss death toll from the coronavirus has reached 705 people, the country's public health ministry said on Wednesday, rising from 641 people on Tuesday.

The number of positive tests for the disease also increased to 22,789 from 22,242 on Tuesday, it said.

A Swiss top health official on Tuesday said that despite the stabilizing increased number of COVID-19 cases in Switzerland, the number of deaths was still high and the problem is far from being solved.

In the Swiss Army's biggest call-up since World War II, thousands of soldiers have been sent to support health workers in the fight against the coronavirus, but the mobilization has not been without problems.

Hundreds of soldiers and officers have been confined to barracks after potential exposure to the infection.

In total, some 5,000 soldiers including members of medical battalions are supporting civil personnel.

READ MORE: As infections balloon, virus squeezes Europe's armed forces


Norway will relax restrictions "little by little", the prime minister said on Tuesday, adding that working from home must continue.

Kindergartens will reopen between April 20 and 27; schools from the first grade to the fourth grade will reopen from April 27; and Norwegians can go to their chalets from April 20.

In addition, major sports and cultural events such as festivals would be banned until June 15.

Some 5,863 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Tuesday, up from 5,755 reported on Monday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said. Some 69 people have died so far.


President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday proposed additional measures to support businesses and workers during the coronavirus crisis and said that Russia could not simply shut its economy down due to potentially destructive consequences.

Putin ordered federal and regional government to develop additional measures aimed at supporting citizens, adding that the next two to three weeks would be crucial in Russia’s fight against the spread of the virus.

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia rose by more than 1,000 for the second day running, taking the total to 8,672, the crisis response centre said on Wednesday.

The number of reported cases rose by 1,175, a record daily rise, while deaths increased by five to 63, the centre said.


The death toll from COVID-19 in Ukraine rose to 52 on Wednesday, as the number of confirmed cases reached 1,668, the country's health ministry said.

According to the ministry, 206 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ukraine in the last 24 hours.

Deputy Health Minister Viktor Liashko said COVID-19 infections in the country may peak on April 14.

A notice to remind people to keep a 1-meter distance is seen at the entrance of a supermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 7, 2020. (CHEN CHENG / XINHUA)

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on a two-month special leave after she violated lockdown regulations, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

The move came following the revelation on social media that the minister had recently visited the home of a friend who hosted a lunch, contrary to the lockdown regulations, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

The president summoned the minister on Tuesday, and reprimanded the minister and directed her to deliver a public apology to the nation, Diko said.

"None of us - not least a member of the National Executive - should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation," Ramaphosa said in a statement.

Under a strict 21-day lockdown imposed from March 27 in a bid to contain the outbreak, South Africa has 1,749 confirmed cases, the continent's highest number, and 13 deaths.

Meanwhile, South Africa's main health workers' union planned to challenge the government in court on Tuesday over shortages of protective gear for frontline staff as the country braced for a surge in new coronavirus cases.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that the country as a whole had not run out of protective equipment.


Brazil's health minister said the country faced a "serious problem" getting enough mechanical ventilators and had spoken to China to try and ensure it would be able to fill an order for face masks as coronavirus deaths accelerated.

The country has confirmed 13,717 coronavirus cases, while deaths rose to 667, exceeding 100 in 24 hours for the first time.

Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta resumed leadership of Brazil's efforts to stop the spread of the virus after winning the backing of the cabinet on Monday in a clash with Bolsonaro over the need to reinforce social distancing.

READ MORE: Brazil army report calls for isolation to slow coronavirus


Mexico has registered 346 new cases of coronavirus infection, bringing the country's total to 2,785, as well as 141 deaths, the health ministry said on Tuesday.


Panama registered 149 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country's total to 2,249 cases, authorities said on Tuesday.

The death toll stands at 59.


Ecuador's government is preparing an emergency burial ground on land donated by a private cemetery in Guayaquil, the country's largest city, to address a shortage of burial plots as the novel coronavirus hits the Andean country hard.

As of Tuesday, the country had 3,995 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 220 deaths, with 182 more deaths suspected of being linked to the virus. 


Colombia's military is deploying all kinds of methods, from helicopters blasting messages over densely crowded areas to issuing fines, to ensure compliance with a national quarantine to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Andean country is in the midst of an obligatory isolation that began late last month and is set to last until April 27.

More than 1,500 infections and over 40 deaths have been reported in the country so far. 


The United States deported 61 Haitian migrants on Tuesday despite fears of further spreading the deadly disease in the poorest country in the Americas.

The densely populated country last month closed its borders after detecting its first two cases of the novel coronavirus, a tally that has since risen to 25 compared to more than 380,000 in the United States.

None of the deportees on Tuesday had any symptoms before boarding the flight, although they had not been tested for the virus and could be asymptomatic, Haiti's foreign minister, Claude Joseph, said.


Two pregnant women diagnosed with the coronavirus in Peru have given birth to babies who have tested negative for the disease, a hospital in the capital Lima said on Tuesday.

The Rebagliati Hospital said in a statement it had conducted a second swab test on the newborns and was awaiting the results.

Peru has so far had 2,954 confirmed cases of the virus and 107 deaths, while 1,301 people recovered.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past closed restaurant terraces in downtown Lisbon, Portugal, April 7, 2020. (ARMANDO FRANCA / AP)


Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Tuesday that strict restriction on movement will have to be imposed in the country later in April, even if the coronavirus crisis abates by then.

Having met with public health experts, the head of state told reporters that the past several days' figures on new infections showed a "positive trend, slow but positive."

As of Tuesday, Portugal has reported 12,442 confirmed cases and 345 deaths.


The Latvian government decided on Tuesday to prolong the national emergency declared over the COVID-19 pandemic until May 12, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told reporters following the weekly cabinet meeting.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Latvia has risen to 548. Three persons had died of COVID-19 in Latvia so far.

In recent days, the rate of increase in COVID-19 cases has been slowing, with nine cases reported on Monday and six on Tuesday.


Ireland's chief medical officer said on Tuesday he did not expect to be able to recommend a lifting of severe restrictions on economic activity and the movement of people by April 12 amid a spike in the death toll from COVID-19.

Dr Tony Holohan of the Department of Health said it was important to give the measures time to work and he wanted to "see the full benefit of the measures that were put in place...the Friday measures that really restricted the amount of movement in the population."

Ireland reported 36 deaths from COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the highest number of deaths in a single day since the outbreak began, which brought the total to 210. There were an additional 345 confirmed infections for a total of 5,709.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tunisia has risen to 623, including 23 deaths, the Tunisian Minister of Health Abdellatif Mekki announced on Tuesday.

"We will reach an alarming phase in which people will die in the streets and at the gates of hospitals if all citizens do not respect the general confinement," warned Mekki at a joint press conference with the Minister of the Interior, Hichem Mechichi.

"Unfortunately, we will not be able to count the number of deaths if the general safety and health rules to deal with the new coronavirus are not respected, in particular general confinement and partial curfew in addition to social distancing," Mekki said.


Ninety-one new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Moldova on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 1,056.

Three of the 91 cases are imported ones, announced Health, Labor and Social Protection Minister Viorica Dumbraveanu.

According to the minister, the number of infected healthcare workers reached 257, accounting for almost one-fourth of the total number of infected persons.


The Slovenian parliament on Tuesday passed legislation which will enable the chamber to convene over the internet if that became necessary because of the coronavirus outbreak,  parliamentary speaker Igor Zorcic said.

The parliament also passed legislation which will enable faster enforcement of laws during the coronavirus crisis.

Slovenia has reported 1,055 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 36 people have died.


The Egyptian Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 128 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths, bringing the total infections in the country to 1,450.

In a statement, spokesman for Egyptian Health Ministry Khaled Megahed said that 17 patients were discharged from hospital in the past 24 hours after recovery.

To counter the spread of the new coronavirus, Egypt will ban any public religious gatherings during the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan starting in around two weeks, according to a government statement.


The total number of COVID-19 patients in Croatia reached 1,282 on Tuesday, 60 more than the day before. Among the confirmed cases, 352 patients have been hospitalized and 35 are on ventilators, Health Minister Vili Beros said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the Croatian Parliament approved a new package of measures proposed by the government to help the economy and citizens affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The new measures include a write-off of the tax obligations in the next three months for companies whose revenues have fallen by more than 50 percent. Only the biggest companies will be exempt from paying taxes proportionally to the loss of their revenues.

Czech Republic

The Health Ministry of the Czech Republic on Wednesday reported 195 new cases the previous day, a 4.0 percent daily rise to push the tally to 5,017, a figure that was updated to stand at 5,033 by 8:25 am.

The daily percentage rise in cases has grown at a single-digit rate so far in April.

The ministry also reported 91 deaths as of Wednesday morning and 181 recovered patients.

The Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, or the lower house of the parliament, on Tuesday voted to extend the state of emergency put in place against the novel coronavirus in the country until April 30.

South Sudan

South Sudan's Ministry of Health on Tuesday evening confirmed the country's second case of COVID-19.

Angok Gordon Kuol, the incident manager in the Ministry of Health in South Sudan said the patient is a 53-year-old female employee of the United Nations who traveled to Juba from Nairobi, Kenya in March.

A city worker fumigates shopping carts to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. At La Vega market in Santiago, Chile, April 7, 2020. (ESTEBAN FELIX / AP)


Chile's Health Ministry on Tuesday reported that 5,116 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and 43 have died from the disease.

In the past 24 hours, 301 new cases of infection were detected and six patients have died. 

According to Health Minister Jaime Manalich, as many as 286 professionals in the health sector have been infected, 256 of whom work in public healthcare and 30 in the private sector.

The government has made it mandatory to wear a face mask on all public transit and paid private transportation.


Honduras will spur planting of grains, vegetables and fruit on unoccupied land as it intervenes in the agroindustrial sector to ensure the food supply amid the spreading coronavirus pandemic, President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Tuesday.

"This plan for food security will ensure that there is food on the tables of all Hondurans, so that when this crisis passes we will not have famine," Hernandez said in a televised address.

Just over three weeks ago, the government imposed a curfew in a bid to halt the spread of the virus, which has infected 312 people.


Algerian health officials said Tuesday that 20 patients have died in Algeria from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while 45 others have been infected.

Head of COVID-19 Detection and Follow-up Commission, Djamel Fourar, told reporters that the death toll now stands at 193, and the total number of the confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 1,468, adding 113 patients have been discharged from hospital after recovery.


The authorities running eastern Libya on Tuesday confirmed a first case of the coronavirus despite efforts to close borders and impose a curfew to limit social interactions.

Libya has confirmed a total of 20 cases of the new coronavirus, with the others in the western areas controlled by the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).


Greek Health Ministry's coronavirus epidemic spokesman Sotirios Tsiodras announced on Tuesday 77 new confirmed cases in the country in the last 24 hours and 2 more deaths.

The total number of cases in Greece now stands at 1,832 and death toll at 81, he said during a televised press briefing.


The number of coronavirus cases in Belarus topped 1,000 on Wednesday, the health ministry said, reporting 205 new infections, a record daily rise.

The total number of cases rose to 1,066, but there was no change in the number of deaths, which remained at 13. 


Albania's health authorities on Tuesday reported a total of 383 confirmed coronavirus cases, six more than the day before, of which 22 were fatalities and 131 recoveries. 

The High Judicial Council has decided to prolong until April 22 the suspension of all activity in judicial courts except for urgent cases, as the country continues its lockdown in an effort to fight the spread of coronavirus, the institution said in a statement.


The death toll from the coronavirus on Tuesday reached 90 in Morocco among the 1,184 confirmed cases, the health ministry said.

A total of 93 patients have recovered from COVID-19, said the ministry's spokesman in his daily briefing.


Djibouti's Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced 14 new COVID-19 confirmed cases, eventually bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Horn of Africa nation to 135.


Kenya's Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 14 more cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number to 172.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe announced a new set of rules to enhance social distancing in the country, including closing down all golf clubs in the country with immediate effect.

Kagwe also directed all medical staff working in all health facilities in the country to take medical tests as a measure to reduce the spread of the virus.


The death toll from COVID-19 has risen to six in Nigeria, as the number of confirmed cases reached 254, the country's disease control center has said.

A total of 44 patients have recovered from COVID-19, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said at its daily briefing.