Published: 09:14, April 27, 2020 | Updated: 03:36, June 6, 2023
Global virus tally nears 3m, countries mull easing restrictions
By Agencies

People rest on the grass at Greenwich Park in London, April 26, 2020, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (STEFAN ROUSSEAU / PA VIA AP)

MADRID / MOSCOW / LONDON / PARIS / LISBON / MILAN / OTTAWA / MEXICO CITY / LIMA / RIO DE JANEIRO / CAIRO / WASHINGTON / BERLIN / LAGOS / CAPE TOWN - Multiple countries are easing or considering easing restrictions gradually for social and economic recovery although the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is nearing 3 million and the death toll topped 206,000.

The global caseload at 0000 GMT on Monday hit 2,968,627, with the United States standing first at 964,937, four times the total of Spain. Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom have all reported over 100,000 cases, the tally showed.

Italy's PM said that factories and building sites will be allowed to reopen from May 4 while the French PM said he would present the government's strategy for lockdown exit to parliament on Tuesday

The United States also recorded the highest death toll with more than 54,000 fatalities. Countries with more than 10,000 fatalities also included Spain, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, according to the CSSE.

In Africa, the death toll reached 1,374 as confirmed positive cases hit 30,329 as of Sunday, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Italy will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to the coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Sunday in a Twitter message that he would present the government's strategy for lockdown exit to parliament on Tuesday.

Last week, US President Donald Trump unveiled guidelines for a phased reopening of parts of the economy disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states started reopening portions of their businesses over the weekend.

Employees from the Health Department and the German Red Cross wait in front of a residential complex to carry out coronavirus tests. In Grevenbroich, Germany, April 26, 2020. (MARIUS BECKER / DPA VIA AP)


The number of new coronavirus infections and fatalities in Germany rose by the slowest pace in a month, as the country took another step in easing restrictions with some schools reopening on Monday.

A total of 157,770 people have been infected with the virus, an increase of 1,257 in the 24 hours through Monday morning, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. New infections held below 2,000 for a third day, and deaths rose by 99 to 5,976, the smallest increase since March 29.

Government officials continued to warn about moving too quickly in relaxing containment measures even as Bavaria, Hamburg and Berlin reopen schools for pupils taking state exams or graduating this year. Last week, the country relaxed some shop closures in its first step to ease the lockdown imposed more than a month ago.

ALSO READ: Germany flips to Apple-Google approach on phone contact tracing

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder warned on Saturday against high expectations that Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders from Germany’s 16 states might take more decisive steps at a meeting this week.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that while it’s important to revive business activity, the country needs to stay cautious to prevent a renewed outbreak forcing a return the tighter restrictions. The “biggest risk” is people who think the worst is over, he said Monday on Deutschlandfunk radio, urging Germans to continue to abide by social-distancing and other measures.

Helge Braun, Merkel's chief of staff, wrote in a letter to lawmakers of the ruling coalition seen by Reuters that Germany should be optimistic, adding: "In the interest of the entire population, to avoid overburdening the health system in the long-term, it's too early to lift social distancing."

A man wearing a face mask reads a book with the Colosseum seen in the background. In Rome, Italy, on April 26, 2020. (ELISA LINGRIA / XINHUA)


Italy will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday.

More than two months after the first case of COVID-19 appeared in a small town outside Milan and following weeks of lockdown, Italy is looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a new wave of infections.

Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen fully from the beginning of June, although takeaway business will be possible earlier.

Italy’s death toll remains the heaviest in Europe, with more than 26,000 dead and almost 200,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease

In addition, parks will be allowed to reopen and limited family visits and funerals with no more than 15 people present will be permitted. But movement between regions remains suspended and people moving about will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reasons for their journeys.

Museums and libraries can reopen from May 18, when sports teams will also be able to resume group training, although Conte said conditions would have to be assessed before any decision on resuming the top-flight Serie A soccer championship.

Schools will remain shut, however, until the start of the new academic year in September, leaving families facing childcare problems for months to come.

ALSO READ: Italy expects to gradually ease lockdown from May 4

Italy’s death toll remains the heaviest in Europe, with more than 26,000 dead and almost 200,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease. But the number of new cases has been slowing and the number of patients in intensive care has been falling steadily.


Haircuts, massages and shopping for garden supplies topped the agenda for Swiss on Monday as the country slowly started easing restrictions on public life imposed in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

More than 1,350 people in Switzerland have died of the COVID-19 respiratory illness the coronavirus causes. The number of people with positive tests is nearing 30,000.


Spanish authorities on Monday prepared to further loosen one of Europe’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns and played down concerns that letting children outdoors after six weeks had led to crowds forming in public spaces.

Having suffered one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks of the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic, Spain shut down public life on March 14 to curb its spread, but recently began to ease restrictions as it reined in the infection rate. The government is now preparing to phase out further restrictions on mobility.

In the most significant relaxation of the lockdown yet, on Sunday children under 14 were granted one hour of daily supervised outdoor activity if they adhered to social-distancing guidelines and stayed within 1 km of their homes.

The number of daily fatalities from the novel coronavirus reported in Spain increased on Monday to 331, up from 288 the previous day, the health ministry said.

The overall death toll rose to 23,521 from 23,190 the day before. The total number of diagnosed cases climbed to 209,465 from 207,634 the day before.

READ MORE: Spanish children feel air on the face after six weeks

Cyclists wearing face masks ride past a woman sitting in front of the French parliament in Paris, France, April 26, 2020. (MICHEL EULER / AP)


The death toll in France from the coronavirus has risen by 242 to 22,856, the health ministry said on Sunday, the lowest daily increase this week, as the government prepares to see how it might ease a national lockdown that has been in place since mid-March.

While the number of deaths from the virus has risen, the rate at which the casualties have mounted has steadily fallen over the last two weeks, emboldening those who want France to start to lift the lockdown measures.

The numbers of people leaving intensive care units (ICUs) has also outpaced the numbers of those entering those units.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is due to present the government's plan to unwind the lockdown to parliament on Tuesday, and parliament will then vote on the measures.

The scientific council advising the government on the pandemic wrote over the weekend that school children aged 11-18 should wear masks to help thwart the virus.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement on his first day back at work in Downing Street, after recovering from a bout with the coronavirus that put him in intensive care. In London, on April 27, 2020. (FRANK AUGSTEIN / AP)


A further 329 people have died of the novel coronavirus in English hospitals, bringing the total to 18,749, health officials said on Monday.

Of the 329, 22 had no known underlying health condition and were aged between 29 and 89 years old.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, back at work after recovering from COVID-19, said on Monday it was still too dangerous to relax a stringent lockdown hammering the economy as that may cause a deadly second outbreak.

"We simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the government will be saying much more about this in the coming days," Johnson said as he spoke outside his Downing Street residence.

He said the country was nearing the end of the “first phase” of the outbreak, and urged the British people not to let up on the social distancing measures that he said were bringing coronavirus under control.

Earlier, Junior Health Minister Edward Argar said Britain is continuing to test whether antibody tests can be used in the fight against the coronavirus and is hopeful they will work.

"We are continuing to research at pace ... we are making very good progress now and I am hopeful we will see some positive news on that front," he told Talk Radio.

Britain is now seeing a very definite downward trend in the number of people who are in hospital with the coronavirus, National Medical Director of the National Health Service (NHS) England Stephen Powis said.

ALSO READ: WHO warns against 'immunity passports'


Russia reported 6,198 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday versus 6,361 on the previous day, raising the national tally to 87,147.

Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, has been on lockdown since President Vladimir Putin announced the closure of most public spaces on March 25. These measures are due to expire on April 30 and Putin has not yet said if he plans to extend them.

Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, told state television on Monday that, in her view, restrictions should be in place until May 12.

Earlier Prime Minister Mikhail Mishushin asked his government to submit proposals by Thursday to ease some of the restrictions on businesses. Many firms have warned that they risk going bankrupt if the lockdown continues, and thousands of jobs have been laid off.

“As soon as situation will be changing for good, we would need to consider a step-by-step cancellation of restrictions on certain companies... operations,” Mishustin told an online government meeting.


Portugal may soon ease its coronavirus lockdown, but widespread use of protective equipment will be essential and the country does not rule out “taking a step back” if the situation worsens again, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Monday.

During a visit to one of hundreds of textile firms reorienting to produce protective gear, he praised the industry for supporting the relaxation of restrictions and said facemasks would likely be obligatory in certain locations such as schools and public transport.

Hundreds of firms whose revenues plummeted after the state of emergency was imposed on March 18 are producing near to a million masks per week in Portugal to meet the surge in demand likely to accompany the easing of lockdowns across Europe.

Portugal has so far reported 24,027 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 928 deaths.


Malta has had no new case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours for the first time since the crisis began, and will start rolling back some of the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus in the coming days, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Sunday.

Malta, with around half a million people, has so far reported almost 450 cases. Four elderly patients with a number of medical complications have died.

The daily number of new cases had fallen in recent days into the single digits before reaching zero.


The Netherlands' number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen by 655 to 37,845, health authorities said on Sunday, with 66 new deaths.

The country's death toll stands at 4,475, the Netherlands' Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in its daily update.

The RIVM cautioned it only reports confirmed cases, and actual numbers are higher.

North Macedonia

A total of 500 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in North Macedonia have recovered, Health Minister Venko Filipce announced on the social media on Sunday.

Via a Facebook post, Filipce said the number of recovered patients in the country has reached 500 on Sunday, with 126 patients reportedly cured over the last 24 hours.

North Macedonia registered a total of 19 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 1,386, according to the health ministry.

Two more deaths were reported over the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 61. 


Greece's health ministry announced on Sunday that COVID-19 infections have totaled 2,517 with 134 fatalities since the start of the outbreak in the country on Feb 26.

In the last 24 hours, 11 new cases were diagnosed and four patients have died, according to an emailed press statement.

A man rides a bike in Times Square amid the coronavirus pandemic, in New York City, April 26, 2020. (KENA BETANCUR / AFP)


Another wave of states prepared to ease coronavirus restrictions on US commerce this week, despite health experts warning there is still too little diagnostic testing, while the White House forecast a staggering jump in the nation's monthly jobless rate.

Wyoming, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee were set to join several other states in reopening businesses without the means to screen systematically for infected people who may be contagious but asymptomatic, and to trace their contacts with others they might have exposed.

Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina have already forged ahead to restart their economies following weeks of mandatory lockdowns.

READ MORE: US cases rise 4.5%; Spain to further ease limits

Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the country will be able to double its COVID-19 testing capacity over the next several weeks, which is needed to safely reopen portions of the economy, according to The Hill on Sunday.

Medical experts say strict adherence to business closures and stay-at-home orders imposed over the past several weeks by governors in 42 of 50 states have worked to level off rates of hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units.

Still the number of known US infections climbed higher on Sunday, topping 960,000 as the number of lives lost to COVID-19 surpassed 54,700.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told reporters on Sunday the jobless rate would likely hit 16 percent or more in April.

New York state has extended its business restrictions through mid-May. Governor Andrew Cuomo said construction and manufacturing would be the first workplaces permitted to reopen and could restart after May 15 in the upstate region with certain precautions and if cases continue to decline.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said isolation measures to fight the coronavirus had to stay in place for the time being even as data showed the death toll had risen by less than 10 percent for the seventh day in a row.

The public health agency said the total number of people killed by the coronavirus climbed by under 6 percent to 2,489 in a day.

The figure for those diagnosed with the coronavirus was 45,791, according to a statement.


Uganda's Ministry of Health reported late on Sunday four new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the east African country to 79.

According to Health Minister Ruth Aceng, of the 1,989 samples tested, 1,578 were from truck drivers and 411 were from local communities.

Republic of Congo

French energy major Total said on Sunday that 14 workers including two of its staff have tested positive for the new coronavirus at its sites in the Republic of the Congo, but output at the 190,000 barrels per day operations have not been affected.

Congo Republic reported 200 positive coronavirus cases and eight deaths since the first case on March 15.


A sharp rise in deaths in the Nigerian city of Kano was caused by complications from other health conditions and not the coronavirus, the state government said on Sunday, citing a preliminary assessment, after a local newspaper reported what it called "mysterious" recent deaths.

Kano state has become the epicenter of the pandemic in northern Nigeria, with 77 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death. Nigeria has 1,182 cases and a national death toll of 35.

Neighbouring Kaduna state said it would extend a quarantine order by another month after the number of cases rose in Kano and Abuja, and banned interstate travel, which it said was a major means of spreading the virus.


Morocco's Ministry of Health confirmed on Sunday 168 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 4,065 in the country.

The ministry said 161 deaths from COVID-19 were reported while 593 patients have recovered in total.


Sudan on Sunday announced 24 new infections with COVID-19, bringing the total number of the confirmed cases in the country to 237.

The death toll reached 21, said Sudan's health ministry in a statement.

The ministry also announced one recovery, bring the total number of recoveries to 20.


The Tunisian Ministry of Health reported on Sunday 10 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 949 in the country.

A total of 216 patients have recovered in Tunisia while 38 deaths were reported in 13 provinces out of 24, said the ministry in a statement.

According to official figures, a total of 20,818 lab tests have been carried out since March 2, when the first COVID-19 case was reported in Tunisia.

A man carrying bags of groceries is seen on a street in Cairo, Egypt, on April 26, 2020. (AHMED GOMAA / XINHUA)


Egypt confirmed on Sunday 215 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths, raising the total number of cases registered in the country to 4,534, including 317 deaths, said the Egyptian Health Ministry.

Sixty-two COVID-19 patients have completely cured, increasing the tally of recoveries to 1,176, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.

On Sunday, the government started resuming suspended government services and reopening closed offices such as traffic department, real estate and vehicle registration offices as well as some courts.

Egyptian cabinet spokesman Nader Saad told a TV channel that the coming period will see "gradual return of normal everyday life in Egypt" while observing caution and implementation of the precautionary measures.

Equatorial Guinea

Thirty workers at an offshore oil platform in Equatorial Guinea have tested positive for the new coronavirus, two sources close to the ministry told Reuters.

The workers on the Serpentina floating production storage and offloading platform have since been evacuated back onshore and are in quarantine, while operator Exxon Mobil and government officials are working to disinfect the platform.

Oil production has not been impacted, the sources said.


Somalia's health ministry on Sunday confirmed 46 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the tally in the country to 436.

Health Minister Fawziya Abikar said five patients have died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 23.

The latest cases come amid concern about the sharp surge in the number of confirmed cases in Somalia due to limited capacity to contain the spread of the virus because of its fragile healthcare system.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has extended inter-district partial lockdown and curfew "till further notice", which takes effect on Sunday, the government has said.

According to a notice published by the country's COVID-19 National Response Emergency Operations Center, the curfew starts from 9 pm to 6 am.

Sierra Leone recorded seven new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 93 with four deaths.


Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo on Sunday decided to extend the state of emergency until May 11, as the country reported its first death related to COVID-19 on Sunday.

Guinea-Bissau currently has 52 COVID-19 cases, including 3 recoveries and one death. 

Cape Verde

Health authorities in Cape Verde reported 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Praia on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 106 in the country.

Authorities have so far reported one death and one recovery in the country.


Kenya's Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed additional 12 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 355.

Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary for health, said eight more people have recovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 106.

The death toll in the country remains at 14, according to Arman.

Education cabinet secretary George Magoha said the government has extended school closure for one month, effective from May 4. However, national examinations will still go on, Magoha said.


Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Sunday night announced a two-week extension of a ban on social gatherings to intensify efforts against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Ghana confirmed 271 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number to 1,550 with 11 deaths, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said.

Ghana, now with the highest number of infected cases in West Africa, has also recorded 155 recoveries as 35 more infected persons under treatment have had their second successive negative tests for the virus and have been discharged.

The capital remains as the epicenter for the pandemic with 1,347 cases.


Honduras will extend a blanket curfew imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus by one week until 3 pm (2100 GMT) on Sunday, May 3, Security Ministry spokesman Jair Meza said on Sunday. 

In this April 14, 2020 photo, residents line up to get their morning meal at the migrant campsite outside El Puente Nuevo in Matamoros, Mexico. (DENISE CATHEY / THE BROWNSVILLE HERALD VIA AP)


Mexico has almost entirely cleared out government migrant centers over the past five weeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, returning most of the occupants to their countries of origin, official data showed on Sunday.

In a statement, the National Migration Institute (INM) said that since March 21, in order to comply with health and safety guidelines, it had been removing migrants from its 65 migrant facilities, which held 3,759 people last month.

In the intervening weeks, Mexico has returned 3,653 migrants to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador by road and air, with the result that only 106 people remain in the centers, it said. 

Mexico's health ministry on Sunday reported 835 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 46 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 14,677 cases and 1,351 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is significantly higher than the confirmed cases.


Confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Panama reached 5,779 on Sunday, a rise of 241 from the previous day, and deaths climbed by six to 165, the health ministry said.


Brazil's confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 61,888, with the death toll hitting 4,205, the health ministry said Sunday.

According to the daily report from the ministry, in the past 24 hours, 3,379 people tested positive for COVID-19, up 5.8 percent, and 189 patients died, up 4.7 percent.

The southeast state of Sao Paulo, the nation's worst-hit area, reported 20,715 infections with 1,700 deaths, followed by the state of Rio de Janeiro, which reported 7,111 infections with 645 deaths.  


Peru reported 27,517 cases of COVID-19 with 728 deaths as of Sunday, 42 days after the country declared a state of emergency to contain the epidemic.

President Martin Vizcarra said at a press conference that his government wass mobilizing all resources to fight the outbreak.

Apart from capital Lima, serious outbreaks have also occurred in Iquitos and Chiclayo, where hospitals have been overrun with coronavirus patients.

A national lockdown has been extended through May 10 to contain the spread of the virus.