coronavirus

Global coronavirus, officially COVID-19, cases has passed 3.5 million while deaths have topped 247,000. The U.S. has the most coronavirus deaths in the world at more 67,600, a number that rose 1,450 over the 24 hours to Sunday evening. Deliberately concealed outbreaks, low testing rates and the severe strain the disease has placed on health care systems mean the true scale of the pandemic is undoubtedly much greater.

Many parts of Asia have begun to inch back towards normal life, with schools in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi reopening on Monday after two weeks without new infections anywhere in the country.

Millions of children in Vietnam have returned to classes after a long break forced by the coronavirus pandemic and millions of Europeans have stepped out from their homes, once put under lockdown, on Monday, with hardest-hit Italy leading the way out of its two-month coronavirus confinement. Blue skies greeted Romans as they stepped into a world forever changed by the pandemic.

U.S. cases rise 2.3%, below one-week average

U.S. cases increased 2.3% from the same time Saturday, to 1.15 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The gain was below the average daily increase of 2.7% over the past week.

New York reported 3,438 new cases for a total of 316,415, with 280 new deaths – the fewest in more than a month – for 18,890. New Jersey reported 3,027 new cases, pushing the total to 126,744, while adding 129 deaths, raising the total to 7,871.

Only three new cases in China

China, which reported just three new cases Monday, has seen a surge in visitors to tourist spots newly reopened ahead of a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday. Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday, and Shanghai’s main tourist spots welcomed more than 1 million visitors, according to Chinese media. Many spots limited daily visitors to 30% of capacity.

Germany’s new cases at five-week low

Germany reported the lowest number of new infections and deaths since at least March 30, as the country continues an easing of curbs on public life and allows the economy to a slow restart.

There were 697 new cases in Germany in the 24 hours since Sunday, compared with 890 a day earlier, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities rose by 54 to 6,866, compared with an increase of 76 the day before. Confirmed cases now total 165,664.

No additional cases in New Zealand

New Zealand recorded no new coronavirus cases, raising hopes it can further relax lockdown restrictions.

The Ministry of Health reported zero new infections for the first time since the lockdown began at midnight on March 25. The nation has 1,487 confirmed or probable cases, of which 86% are defined as recovered. There have been 20 deaths.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will join an Australian government cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss, among other issues, the eventual re-opening of borders between the two nations.

Infections are rising rapidly in India

In India, new infections have been rising rapidly. The lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people was extended two more weeks, but with some measures relaxed, as reported cases reached 42,000 with nearly 1,400 deaths.

In New Delhi, a designated hot spot where many restrictions remained, construction workers, Uber drivers and self-employed people such as housekeepers returned to work.

India air force helicopters showered flower petals on hospitals in several cities to thank doctors, nurses and police at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic.

Troubling sign in Kabul

A potentially troubling sign emerged in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, where a third of 500 people tested randomly were positive.

Japan to extend state of emergency

Japan was set to extend its state of emergency to the end of the month.

Japan has reported a comparatively small-scale outbreak, with 15,000 infections and 510 deaths so far, but there have been persistent fears about a spike in cases.

Hong Kong to ease gathering limit

Hong Kong plans to relax social-distancing measures to allow public gatherings of no more than eight people, broadcaster Cable TV reported, citing unidentified people.

The government may allow cinemas, beauty parlors and gyms to reopen this week, according to the report. Existing measures are set to expire on May 7. Hong Kong has not found a local coronavirus case in 14 days.

U.K. mulls socially distant return to work

The U.K. is reportedly considering social-distancing measures in the workplace when businesses reopen. According to the Telegraph, the U.K. government may advise companies to split workforces into parallel teams, stagger start times and lunch breaks, and limit staff numbers in meetings. Suggested structural changes include moving desks apart.

Russia is becoming Europe’s hotspot

Russia is rapidly becoming Europe’s hotspot, with officials in Moscow urging residents to stay home in an effort to tamp down the daily tally of new cases.

“The threat is apparently on the rise,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin told citizens.

In Russia, new reported cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time, bringing total cases to about 135,000 with nearly 1,300 deaths.

Portugal starts to emerge from lockdown

Portugal begins to ease its lockdown on Monday, with small shops, hair salons and car dealers resuming operations as a state of emergency was lifted after more than six weeks.

The wearing of face masks or visors in stores and on public transport is compulsory under the government’s plan unveiled last week for the gradual reopening of the country.

Portugal declared a state of emergency on March 19 and has so far recorded more than 25,000 virus cases, including over a thousand deaths.

That was lifted Sunday but people were still encouraged to stay home as the country takes tentative steps towards normal life.

Restrictions on movement will be eased in the coming weeks, the government said Thursday.

Senior schools will reopen May 18, but long-distance learning will remain the norm for primary and middle schools through to the end of the year.

Museums, bars, restaurants and art galleries will also open their doors once more from May 18 as well.

Those who can will be expected to work from home throughout May and groups of more than 10 people are banned.

Football league action is slated to resume on the final weekend of the month.

Spain Belgium Slovenia Poland Hungary

Spain has seen a significant downward trend in reported new cases.

Facemasks will be mandatory on public transport starting Monday in Spain, where people were allowed to go outdoors to exercise and walk freely on Saturday after a 48-day lockdown.

Belgium is also relaxing some of its lockdown measures from Monday, confident enough that the outbreak there was on the wane.

Slovenia, Poland and Hungary will allow public spaces and businesses to partially reopen.

Thai cases jump on detention-center infections

Thailand reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections in over a week after finding more cases at an immigration detention center.

Some 18 people were found to have the pathogen at the center in southern Songkhla province, a spokesperson for the Covid-19 center said in Bangkok.

Malaysia eases curbs

Malaysians started slowing returning to their offices, cars were on the roads in greater numbers and joggers enjoyed runs outside for the first time in weeks, as a strict lockdown to fight the virus was eased.

Most businesses have been allowed to reopen as long as employees practice social-distancing, although those where people could come into close contact – such as cinemas – must stay closed for now.

Malaysia has had a relatively small outbreak, so far reporting about 6,300 infections and around 100 deaths.

An outbreak in Australia

Australia suffered an outbreak at a Melbourne meatworks, echoing similar incidents at U.S. beef plants.

A total of 19 cases detected Sunday originated at the meatworks, bringing the plant’s total to 34.

While the daily growth of new infections in Australia has slowed to less than 1%, there are concerns new clusters could jeopardize the nation’s ability to quickly lift its lockdown.

Trump forecasts 100,000 U.S. Deaths

The U.S. President Donald Trump forecast as many as 100,000 U.S. deaths from the virus. He accused China of trying to cover up the outbreak and promised a conclusive report on the pandemic’s Chinese origins.

Trump said he has little doubt that China misled the world about the scale and risk of the coronavirus outbreak and then sought to cover it up as the disease became a global pandemic.

“I think they made a very horrible mistake,” Trump said during an interview Sunday night on Fox News. “They tried to cover it.” He alluded to additional information he said would be coming out soon to back up his claims, which China has rejected.

Trump got two briefings in January

The U.S. intelligence community briefed President Donald Trump twice in the eight days before he blocked travel from China to stop the outbreak, a senior White House official said.

In the first briefing, on January 23, Trump was told the virus was poised to spread from China, and getting infected would not be deadly for most people. Five days later, Trump received information showing the virus was spreading but all deaths remained in China, the official said.

China denies the claims, and the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has said analysts are still examining the exact origin.

Most scientists say the disease arose naturally in the animal kingdom.

The renewed anti-Chinese rumblings from Washington set financial markets on edge on Monday, as traders fretted about tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

In the U.S., some Republican-leaning states have seen demonstrations – sometimes armed – against movement restrictions, with participants decrying government overreach.

The divide in the U.S. between those who want lockdowns to end and those who want to move more cautiously extended to Congress.

The Republican-majority Senate will reopen Monday in Washington. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is staying shuttered. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to convene 100 senators gives Trump, a Republican, the imagery he wants of America getting back to work, despite the risks.

Anti-lockdown frustrations in Brazil

Anti-lockdown frustrations have also fuelled the populist president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly played down the severity of the disease.

“The destruction of jobs by some governors is irresponsible and unacceptable,” he told a rally in Brasilia, as supporters in the crowd called on the military to intervene.

“The people are with us and the army is on the side of the law, order, freedom and democracy,” Bolsonaro told them.

The rally came as the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Brazil passed 100,000, including 7,000 deaths.

Experts believe the overall number of cases could be 12 to 15 times higher, with little testing among the country’s 210 million population.

Asia’s factories plunge to record lows

Factory output across several Asian countries slumped to record lows in April, signaling a deeper contraction in the world’s manufacturing hub even as China begins restarting some operations.

Purchasing managers indexes across Southeast Asia slumped further below 50, the dividing line between contraction and expansion, to post their weakest readings since the series began. Taiwan, Japan and South Korea dropped to their lowest levels since 2009.


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