Worldwide coronavirus toll rises to 2.39 lakh

Spain eases lockdown, US approves drug

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 00:57, May 03,2020


The novel coronavirus has killed at least 238,810 people since the outbreak first emerged in China in December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Saturday.

More than 3,354,100 cases were registered in 195 countries and territories. Of these, at least 1,014,700 are now considered recovered.

The United States has the highest number of total deaths with 65,068 out of 1,104,161 cases. At least 164,015 have been declared recovered.

Italy has the second highest toll with 28,236 deaths out of 207,428 cases, followed by Britain with 27,510 deaths from 177,454 cases, Spain 25,100 deaths and 216,582 cases and France with 24,594 deaths and 167,346 cases.

The country with the highest proportion of fatalities per population is Belgium, with 66 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Spain with 53, Italy with 47, Britain with 41 and France with 38.

China has to date declared 4,633 deaths and 82,875 cases. It has 77,642 recovered cases.

Europe has a total of 140,598 deaths from 1,508,719 cases, the United States and Canada have 68,530 deaths and 1,158,941 cases, Latin America and the Caribbean have 12,197 deaths and 231,039 cases, Asia has 8,820 deaths and 229,242 cases, the Middle East has 6,857 deaths and 177,521 cases, Africa has 1,688 deaths from 40,544 cases, and Oceania 120 deaths from 8,102 cases.

Spaniards were allowed out of their homes to exercise and walk freely after 48 days of confinement on Saturday as some European nations began cautiously easing virus lockdowns while others like Russia faced a spike in new infections.

As governments across the globe balance lifting restrictions to restart  economies against the risk of new infections, US authorities brought some hope by approving an experimental drug for emergency use on coronavirus patients.

With signs the pandemic in their hardest-hit nations is slowing, European countries and some parts of the US have begun to lift restrictions and to try to inject life into economies battered by weeks of closure.

In Madrid and Barcelona, Spaniards took to the streets to exercise and walk freely as the government eased seven weeks of strict lockdown.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez however said masks would be obligatory on public transport from Monday.

Spain, Germany, Austria and Scandinavian nations are all slowly easing lockdowns as the virus cases slow though they will keep in place social distancing measures, demand the use of masks or increase testing to try to track infections.

France on Saturday decided it would extend a health emergency, in place since March 24, by two months until July 24, health minister Olivier Veran announced after a cabinet meeting.

Italy is preparing to ease restrictions in coming days while British prime minister Boris Johnson, who spent time in intensive care with the virus, said Britain had past the peak of its outbreak.

Ireland extended its lockdown by two weeks to May 18, with prime minister Leo Varadkar saying the nation will reopen ‘in a slow, phased, staged way’ after that.

In Russia, though, authorities reported the largest increase in coronavirus cases with the new infections rising by nearly 10,000 in a single day.

In Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, around 2 per cent of the population is infected by COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, officials said.

US president Donald Trump on Friday announced that Remdesivir, an antiviral drug initially developed to treat Ebola, was given the green light for use after a major trial found that it boosted recovery in serious COVID-19 patients.

‘It’s really a very promising situation,’ Trump said on Friday at the White House.

The drug incorporates itself into the virus’s genome, short-circuiting its replication process.

Its approval came as the US leaders struggled with growing pressure from citizens wearying of stay-at-home orders.

Trump is keen for a turnaround as the world’s largest economy reels with tens of millions left jobless.

Texas became the largest US state yet to ease curbs, while anti-lockdown demonstrations were held in several states — including California, where officials had re-closed beaches beginning Friday to avoid a repeat of last weekend when crowds flocked to the shoreline.

In Huntington Beach, about 35 miles south of Los Angeles, several thousand people rallied to denounce Governor Gavin Newsom’s beach shutdown order.

‘Open California!’ chanted protesters near the closed beaches, carrying signs that read ‘All jobs are essential’ or ‘Freedom is essential’.

In Asia, India announced that the lockdown on its 1.3 billion people — the world’s biggest — would continue for two more weeks from May 4.

Sri Lanka extended its anti-virus lockdown for a second time, through May 11, as health authorities warned that the crisis was not yet under control in the island nation.

The government also said that for the first time ever, the country’s most important Buddhist festival will go on next week under a nationwide curfew, with no public gatherings allowed.

And in Singapore, the government said Saturday that pet food stores and hair salons will be allowed to reopen on May 12.

Hong Kong recorded zero confirmed case of coronavirus on Saturday, the sixth day within a week.

The city’s chief executive has said that civil servants will return to work in the office starting from May 4.

The virus restrictions put a damper on May Day celebrations worldwide on Friday as many labour unions delayed their rallies and some held online events, while a determined few hit the streets in face masks.

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