Published: 10:38, April 21, 2020 | Updated: 03:56, June 6, 2023
Italy expects to gradually ease lockdown from May 4
By Agencies

People wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 browse through a bookstore in Rome, April 20, 2020. (ALESSANDRA TARANTINO / AP)

NEW YORK / WASHINGTON / BOGOTA / UNITED NATIONS / GENEVA / PARIS / LONDON / DUBLIN / CAIRO / RABAT / TUNIS / ROME / ALGIERS / BERLIN / BRATISLAVA / QUITO / TORONTO / MOGADISHU / COPENHAGEN / MOSCOW / ATHENS / PRAGUE - Italy will announce before the end of this week its plans for the gradual reopening from a lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus emergency that will be applied starting from May 4, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

Conte said that his cabinet is working with various experts to coordinate the so-called “phase 2” when Italy will have to cohabit with the coronavirus. The plan will be done at a national level but it will take into account regional differences, Conte said.

PM Conte said plans for Italy's gradual reopening will be announced before the end of this week

Conte said the easing of restrictions would happen on the basis of a thorough study and scientific data.

The number of new COVID-19 cases dropped to 2,256 on Monday, the lowest level in well over a month, the Civil Protection Agency said. The total death toll stood at 24,114, the second highest in the world after that of the United States.

ALSO READ: EU nations move toward loosening restrictions

Meanwhile, local and regional elections originally scheduled for next month have been postponed until at least September, the first time which media sources indicated that Italy has delayed local elections across the country since the end of World War II.

COVID-19 vaccine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants a vaccine for COVID-19 to be available to all people around the world, said his spokesman on Monday.

"It needs to be available for all - for moral reasons but also that none of us will be safe until all of us are safe," said Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The UN secretary-general has been in touch with the World Health Organization (WHO), which is in the lead on this issue, said the spokesman.

"We want to make sure that the vaccine does not exacerbate the issues of inequality when it actually arrives and that it is shared for the benefit of all," he said. 

Meanwhile, the WHO chief said on Monday that more than 100 countries have joined the efforts to evaluate the treatment trials for COVID-19.

"This week, we expect that more than 600 hospitals will be ready to start enrolling patients," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Welcoming the accelerated development and validation of tests to detect COVID-19 antibodies, Tedros said this will help the world to understand the extent of infection in the population.

ALSO READ: WHO: Nothing hidden from US, CDC experts on board

Global toll

The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 170,000 on Monday evening, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. 

A total of 170,261 people have died of the disease as of 10:40 pm Monday (0340 GMT on Tuesday) among 2,475,841 cases worldwide, the CSSE data showed.

The United States suffered the most fatalities at 42,295 as its total cases topped 786,600; Italy recorded 24,114 deaths, Spain reported 20,852 deaths and France also recorded over 20,000 deaths, according to the CSSE.

Protesters drive down Capitol Mall calling for Governor Gavin Newsom to end his stay-at-home orders in Sacramento, Caliornia, April 20, 2020. (RICH PEDRONCELLI / AP)


Anthony Fauci, a top expert on infectious disease in the United States, urged caution on Monday for US states to reopen, as anti-quarantine protests are popping up around the nation.

Some US states are moving to ease stay-at-home restrictions, with governors of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, and Louisiana announcing moves intended to restart economy and public life in their states.

According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University on Monday, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has exceeded 784,000, with more than 42,000 deaths.

ALSO READ: Social distancing works, but how long must it remain in place?

A new report, released by Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics on Monday, said that the United States will need to administer 20 million tests for the coronavirus each day by mid-summer in order to fully remobilize the economy in a safe fashion.

New York state has launched a large-scale COVID-19 antibody testing starting on Monday in an effort to find out how much of its population has been infected with the virus.

In Los Angeles, health officials said that some 4.1 percent of adults tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in a study of Los Angeles County residents, suggesting the rate of infection may be 40 times higher than the number of confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, the US Congress on Monday inched toward a US$450 billion deal to help small businesses and hospitals hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, as the Senate set a Tuesday session for a potential vote.

Separately, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet late on Monday he will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.

Earlier, US Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a tweet that the United States, Mexico and Canada are extending restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for an additional 30 days.


Canada's province of Ontario on Monday forecast 20,000 cases of the coronavirus by the end of the month, a quarter of the number it had projected just three weeks ago, as the country's chief medical officer warned that it is not yet time to ease up on quarantine measures.

The current wave of community coronavirus cases "appears to have peaked," medical officials in Ontario said.

Overall in Canada, the death toll rose to 1,611 on Monday, official data posted by the public health agency showed. The total number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus had climbed to 35,392.

Children look at a banner reading "Thanks" to honor the professional categories on the front line during a nationwide confinement to counter the COVID-19, in Paris, France, April 20, 2020. (FRANCOIS MORI / AP)


France has stopped all flights outside the Schengen zone, French Transport and Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday.

The move comes a day after the country officially registered more than 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, becoming the fourth country to pass that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States, and the pace of increase in fatalities and infections sped up again after several days of slowing.

"The epidemic is very deadly and is far from over," France's public health chief Jerome Salomon said at a news briefing.

He said the number of people in intensive care had fallen for the 12th consecutive day, to 5,683 - the lowest since March 31 - suggesting the national lockdown is having positive effects in containing the disease.

Another encouraging signal was a decline for the sixth day in a row in people hospitalized for COVID-19, even though the total, at 30,584 versus 30,610 on Sunday, is going down only slowly.

Salomon said coronavirus-linked fatalities were up 2.8 percent, at 20,265, after an increase of 2.0 percent on Sunday. 

The number of confirmed cases increased by 1.8 percent in France to 114,657, and possible cases in nursing homes were up 1.1 percent at 40,726, for a total of 155,383.


The true extent of the death toll in England and Wales from COVID-19 was 41 percent higher than the daily figures from the government indicated by April 10, according to data on Tuesday that includes deaths in the community.

The Office for National Statistics said it recorded 13,121 deaths by April 10, compared with 9,288 in the government's daily toll for those who died in hospital.

If the United Kingdom's figures are underestimating the death toll by a similar figure, then the true death toll for the country as a whole could be above 23,000 based on the latest data - making it the second worst hit in Europe after Italy.

The latest hospital deaths data published on Monday show 16,509 people had died across the United Kingdom.

As of Monday morning, 124,743 people have tested positive for the virus, marking a daily increase of 4,676, said the department.

A Downing Street spokesman said Monday that the government now has the capacity to carry out 36,000 coronavirus tests per day and avoiding a second peak of infections was the "big concern" as ministers approached the decision about easing the lockdown.

Also on Monday, the British government announced a 1.25-billion-pound (US$1.55-billion) package to support innovative businesses in the country hit by the pandemic.

When Parliament reopens on Tuesday, the first order of business will be to agree a plan for a new virtual House of Commons that complies with social distancing rules. 


More than 100 asylum seekers hosted in a hotel in the southern Greek town of Kranidi have tested positive for the coronavirus, Greek national news agency AMNA reported on Tuesday, citing the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.

A total of 470 asylum seekers, mainly from Africa, were staying at the hotel which is used as a refugee accommodation facility.

The place has been quarantined since Thursday as a precautionary measure after a member of staff tested positive for the novel coronavirus, although the specific individual had not been working in the last 12 days, according to AMNA.

The Health Ministry announced on Monday that a 28-year-old pregnant asylum seeker from Somalia who had been accommodated in the hotel also tested positive.

On Monday, Greece announced a total of 2,245 confirmed infections, including 116 deaths, since Feb 26 when the first case was diagnosed in the country.


Spain reported the smallest increase in the number of coronavirus cases in three days as the nation considers a cautious easing of restrictions on public life.

There were 3,968 new infections in the 24 hours through Tuesday, taking the total to 204,178, according to Health Ministry data. 

The number of fatalities rose by 430, compared to Monday’s increase of 399, to 21,282. 

The numbers of new cases and deaths have dropped to about half their levels at the start of April, prompting the government to shift focus to a possible easing of lockdown measures. 

A first step will be easing confinement rules for children, who will be let out of their homes from April 27. The cabinet, holding its weekly meeting Tuesday, and scientific advisory teams are expected to outline the new regulations this week.

On Tuesday, Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero announced that she has recovered from the virus. 

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic will test 27,000 people for coronavirus antibodies to gain information on how many came into contact with the infection, officials said on Tuesday.

The study, wider than others made in European countries and the United States in recent weeks, will start on Wednesday and involve all age groups.

Four regions were picked, from areas that were little affected by the virus to ones highly affected, Institute of Health Information and Statistics Director Ladislav Dusek said.

Results, expected in early May, should give the government a clearer view of how many asymptomatic cases there may have been and help decision-making on further steps.

The Czech Republic has reported 6,914 cases and 196 deaths. It has done 178,617 tests.


Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,785 to 143,457, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday, marking a slight increase in the number of new infections after two days of declines.

New infections had increased by 1,775 on Monday.

The reported death toll rose by 194 to 4,598, the tally showed on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Merkel warns of virus-relapse risk as Germany eases curbs


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Belgium has risen from 39,983 to 40,956 by Tuesday morning, with 5,998 deaths, according to the latest figures from Belgian health authorities.


Denmark will not allow public gatherings to exceed 500 persons until at least Sept 1, the Danish health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement contradicted earlier media reports, which said the government would allow larger public gatherings from May 10.

A current upper limit on public gatherings of 10 people is in effect until May 10.


Russia recorded 5,642 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 52,763, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said on Tuesday.

Fifty-one people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 456, it said.

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia began rising sharply this month, although it had reported far fewer infections than many western European countries in the outbreak's early stages.


Poland's government plans to present more proposals to help Polish companies survive the coronavirus crisis by the end of the week, Deputy Prime Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said on Tuesday.

To help companies and save jobs, the government has launched a rescue package worth more than 300 billion zlotys (US$72 billion).


A total of 77 COVID-19-related deaths were reported in Ireland on Monday, the highest figure ever recorded in a single day since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, according to the statistics released by the Irish Department of Health.

To date, there are altogether 687 COVID-19-related deaths in Ireland, said the department in a statement on Monday night, adding that another 401 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country on the same day, bringing the total number to 15,652.


The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 1,187, the country’s public health agency said on Tuesday, rising from 1,142 people on Monday.

The number of positive tests increased to 28,063 from 27,944 on Monday, an increase of 119, it said. The infection rate has slowed of late from a peak of 1,300 new positive tests per day at the end of March.


The Health Ministry of Cyprus announced single digit coronavirus cases for a second day running on Monday, giving rise to optimism that infections could get down to zero by the end of the month when a total lockdown decree expires.

According to a ministry statement, only five new cases were confirmed out of 1,660 tests, bringing the tally to 772. The death toll in the country stands at 12.


The death toll from COVID-19 in Ukraine rose to 151 on Monday and total cases reached 5,710, the country's health ministry has said.

In the past 24 hours, 261 people have tested positive for COVID-19, while 359 patients have recovered.

North Macedonia

The process to returning to normal life in North Macedonia will start after May 1, Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski declared on social media on Monday.

On Monday, health authorities in North Macedonia reported 18 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country's tally to 1,225.

Three more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 54, the Health Ministry said.  


The Slovak government plans to reopen small shops of up to 300 square meters, outdoor sports grounds and restaurants for takeaway from Wednesday, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Monday, in an easing of its coronavirus lockdown.

Matovic said the plan was subject to approval by the country's crisis committee on Tuesday, and any further steps would follow with a two-week delay upon evaluation of the initial relaxation.

Slovakia has had only 13 deaths so far, the smallest per capita number in the European Union, but new cases have not yet been on a downtrend. 

The country has so far registered 1,173 cases as of midnight Sunday.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he hoped this would be the last week of stay-at-home measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, wishing for an end to a policy he has branded an ill-founded jobs killer.

READ MORE: Bolsonaro attacks coronavirus lockdowns as supporters take to streets

Despite Bolsonaro's protests, many of Brazil's governors have more or less shut down their states, leading to an angry response from the president. 

he number of confirmed cases rose to 40,581 and coronavirus deaths reached 2,575 on Monday, according to the Health Ministry.

With Brazil's outbreak appearing to be a few weeks behind those in Europe and the United States, it is unlikely Brazil's governors will end stay-at-home measures this week as the president wants.

The government is discussing with the country's main airlines further reducing a minimal flight schedule implemented due to the coronavirus crisis as travel demand remains close to zero, three sources told Reuters.

Patients with symptoms associated with COVID-19 wait to be examined, inside a tent installed by the authorities outside Hospital del Seguro Social Quito Sur in Quito, Ecuador, April 20, 2020. (DOLORES OCHOA / AP)


Ecuador reported over 10,000 cases of coronavirus on Monday, the fourth-highest tally in Latin America.

The Andean nation has reported a total of 507 deaths, the health ministry said. Officials said they believed another 826 people have died due to the virus, but the cases were never confirmed.

The Ecuadorian government said that most of the confirmed cases are "stable in home isolation," adding that it has taken 32,453 samples for COVID-19 testing. 

"As long as people comply with this isolation in a disciplined and committed way, we will be able to contain the contagion," Deputy Health Minister Xavier Solórzano told reporters at a press conference.


Colombia will extend its coronavirus quarantine until May 11, President Ivan Duque said on Monday, but will allow construction and manufacturing to reopen.

Nearly 200 people have died of COVID-19 in the Andean country, which has almost 4,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease.

It is the second time Colombia's quarantine has been extended. 

International and national flights will remain suspended until the end of May, Duque said, as will inter-municipal transport. 


Panama registered 191 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the country's total to 4,658 cases, the Health Ministry said.

Officials also confirmed 10 more deaths, raising Panama's death toll to 136.

Earlier on Monday, the Central American country's aviation authority said in a resolution it will extend by one month a suspension on international flights for what it said was public health reasons. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian flights as well as those transporting medical supplies deemed necessary to fight the viral outbreak.


Cameroonian Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on Monday announced plans to transform eight venues into makeshift medical facilities to treat COVID-19 patients.

The facilities are five football stadiums and three social housing units in five major cities, including the capital Yaounde and commercial hub Douala which have reported most of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the central African country.

According to the health authorities, the country has so far reported 1,163 confirmed cases and 43 deaths. 


The Somali Health Ministry said on Monday night that the country registered 73 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the national tally to 237.

The ministry also said that one more person has recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to four.

The ministry added that there was one more death reported, bringing the death toll to eight.


Algeria on Monday reported 89 new cases from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 2,718. 

In his daily briefing, Head of the Detection and Follow-up Commission Djamel Fourar, said that the death toll reached 384 following nine more newly reported deaths.

Fourar noted that hospitals have registered 52 new recoveries, pushing the total number of recoveries to 1,099. 

This photo taken on April 20, 2020 shows an almost empty road amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Cairo, Egypt. (WU HUIWO / XINHUA)


Egypt on Monday reported a record 189 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, bringing the total number in the country to 3,333.

Khaled Megahed, spokesman for the health ministry, said in a statement that 11 patients died from the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 250.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Liberia has risen to 99, as health authorities in the country confirmed 19 new cases on Monday.

Eight deaths have been recorded and seven other cases have recovered so far in the country, according to official data.


Libya's National Center for Disease Control on Monday announced three new COVID-19 recovery cases in the country.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Libya has reached 51, including 14 recoveries and 1 death.


A total of 191 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Morocco on Monday, bringing the total number in the country to 3,046, the Ministry of Health said.

Meanwhile, 350 recoveries have been registered after 23 new ones were added, while 143 have died from the coronavirus since the outbreak in the country.

READ MORE: Africa faces stern virus test with hit in economy


Authorities in Windhoek said on Monday that the Namibian capital will reopen informal markets on Wednesday, following amendments to COVID-19 lockdown regulations banning all open markets and informal trading activities.

Namibia, which has reported 16 confirmed cases, six of which are recoveries, has been enforcing a lockdown since March 27.

"It has also been recognized that food is one of the listed essential goods, and that a large section of the population depend on informal trading and markets as the main avenue for them to either sell or source the essential produce or products, which in turn are their main source of income and survival," a statement by the City of Windhoek reads.


Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority on Monday decided to extend the closure of airports for domestic and international passenger flights until May 20 amid the spread of COVID-19.

The decision exempted scheduled cargo flights and humanitarian and technical aid flights, as well as flights of companies operating in oil fields and permitted evacuation flights for foreign nationals, the authority said in a statement.

Sudan's health ministry on Monday announced the recording of 26 new infections and two more deaths, bringing the country's tally to 92 and the death toll to 12.


Tanzania's health authorities on Monday announced 84 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in three days, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 254 from 170 reported on Friday last week.

Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, said in a statement that there were three more deaths, bringing the death toll to 10.


Tunisia's Ministry of Health reported on Monday night five new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 884.

A total of 148 patients have recovered in Tunisia while 38 deaths were reported in 13 provinces, according to the ministry statement.