Published: 10:58, April 22, 2020 | Updated: 03:52, June 6, 2023
Amid warnings, Trump says US states reopening safely
By Agencies

A man wearing a face mask crosses a deserted avenue in Madrid, Spain, on April 21, 2020. (GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

NEW YORK / WASHINGTON / PARIS / THE HAGUE / MOSCOW / MEXICO CITY / ABUJA / MOGADISHU / BERLIN / NAIROBI / CAIRO / ATHENS / LISBON / STOCKHOLM / DUBLIN / VIENNA / COPENHAGEN / MADRID / MOSCOW / WARSAW / SOFIA - Confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has topped 2.5 million and the global toll surpassed the 178,000 mark, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. 

Among all countries and regions, the United States recorded the most cases and the highest death toll, which stood at 823,786 as of 8:00 pm EST on Tuesday (0000 GMT Wednesday) and 44,999, respectively. Spain has reported 208,389 cases and 21,717 deaths, while Italy reported 183,957 cases and 24,648 deaths, the CSSE said.

Other countries with over 100,000 cases included France, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to the CSSE tally. 


President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that US states are safely starting to reopen businesses, even as some public health officials warned that relaxing restrictions too quickly could trigger a new surge in cases of the coronavirus.

The US economy has been battered as businesses have closed and residents have observed stay-at-home orders.

Governors of about half a dozen US states pushed ahead on Tuesday with plans to partially reopen for business despite warnings by some health officials that doing so could trigger a new surge of coronavirus cases.

Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, warned that a second wave of the coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season, according to a report of The Washington Post.

The US Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved US$484 billion in additional coronavirus relief for the US economy and hospitals treating people sickened by the pandemic, sending the measure to the House of Representatives for final passage later this week.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expects the House of Representatives to pass Congress' latest coronavirus aid bill on Thursday, paving the way for nearly US$500 billion more in economic relief amid the pandemic.

President Donald Trump urged Congress to quickly approve the measure, which mainly expands funding for loans to small businesses, leaving additional aid to state and local governments for a later bill.

The director of the US CDC warned that a second wave of the coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season, according to a report of The Washington Post

ALSO READ: Plea to hold firm on controls

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 823,000 as of Tuesday evening, with over 44,900 deaths, according to the CSSE.

Health officials in California's Santa Clara County have identified two people who died from COVID-19 in early and mid-ebruary, making them the earliest known victims of the outbreak in the United States.

It was previously thought that the first US death from COVID-19 was a man in his 50s who died in Washington state on Feb 29.

Meanwhile, more than 700 crew members from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier docked in Guam, have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, CNN reported, quoting the US Navy.

Separately, Trump has agreed to have the federal government help procure chemical reagents and other supplies needed for New York to double its testing capacity for the novel coronavirus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said after meeting the president Tuesday.


Spain aims to begin winding down its coronavirus lockdown in the second half of May, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday, though restrictions could come back if the epidemic worsens again in one of the worst-hit nations.

With the world's second most infections and Europe's second highest death toll, Spain has imposed one of the severest lockdowns.

Spain's death toll climbed by 435 in the past 24 hours to 21,717, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday

With the epidemic seemingly having passed its peak, measures will be eased slowly and gradually to ensure safety, Sanchez said at a parliamentary session, where he will ask lawmakers to extend the state of emergency until May 9.

However, the mayor of the Spanish city of Badalona resigned on Wednesday after he was found breaking the lockdown rules, drunk driving and resisting arrest on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night, the government bowed to public pressure and said children under 14 would be able to take short walks outside under supervision.

A sharp slowdown in infections has Spaniards optimistic their nightmare may be easing, and officials are turning their attention to restarting the flagging economy.

ALSO READ: Health minister: Spain has reached 'peak of contagion'

Spain's death toll from the coronavirus climbed by 435 in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, roughly in line with the 2 percent increases reported in the past few days.

The cumulative death toll now stands at 21,717, while the number of confirmed infections rose by 4,211 to 208,389, according to the ministry.

Pedestrians wearing protective masks cross a street in New York, April 21, 2020. (FRANK FRANKLIN II / AP)


Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 534 on Tuesday, up from 454 the day before and the largest daily tally since Friday, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The number of new infections also increased to 2,729 from 2,256 on Monday.

The total death toll was 24,648, the agency said, the second highest in the world after that of the United States.

The number of officially confirmed cases was 183,957, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.

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


Coronavirus fatalities in France increased steadily on Tuesday to nearly 21,000, but the number of patients in intensive care registered its sharpest decline since the beginning of the outbreak.

Public health chief Jerome Salomon said the rate of increase of confirmed coronavirus cases, now 117,324 in total, was up for the second day running, but the number of people in hospital was down for the seventh consecutive day.

France reported 531 more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 20,796. That is the fourth-highest tally in the world, behind the United States, Italy and Spain.

The number of people in intensive care units in France fell 4.4 percent to 5,433, the lowest since March 30 and the 13th consecutive daily decline.


Another 759 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in hospitals in Britain as of Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 18,100, the Department of Health and Social Care said Wednesday. 

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Wednesday the government was confident it would meet its target of carrying out 100,000 tests a day for the coronavirus by the end of the month.

Some of the early tests used to check whether British health workers had the coronavirus were inffective, junior health minister Helen Whately said on Wednesday.

"This is a normal process ... this is a new illness and we are learning all the time. Those who were tested with the test that we think isn't up to scratch are being written to, to let them know, and they will be offered another test."

The true extent of Britain's COVID-19 death toll was more than 40 percent higher than the government's daily figures indicated as of April 10, according to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that put the country on track to become among the worst-hit in Europe.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters that the 40 percent gap between the daily data and the more comprehensive ONS data was "not an accurate representation of those figures".

READ MORE: Boris Johnson's govt faces first political test of lockdown

Meanwhile, Hancock said clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine, developed by scientists at the University of Oxford, will begin on people from Thursday.

Hancock said on Wednesday the government would bring in large-scale contact-tracing once the number of new cases of the coronavirus falls.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke on the phone with Trump, said the Downing Street, adding that Johnson, who is "continuing his recovery", is currently not doing any formal government work.


Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,237 to 145,694, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday, marking a second consecutive day of new infections accelerating.

The reported death toll rose by 281 to 4,879, the tally showed.

Germany's vaccines regulator approved live human testing of a potential vaccine against the coronavirus developed by German biotech company BioNTech , the regulator said in a statement on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the German Finance Ministry has made available an additional 8 billion euros (US$8.7 billion) for medical protection gear to help hospitals and doctors contain the spread of the coronavirus, a government document showed on Tuesday.


Belgium has recorded 6,262 deaths since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic as of Wednesday, Belgian health authorities said.


Confirmed coronavirus infections surpassed 10,000 in Poland on Wednesday, as it slowly eases restrictions on public life ahead of a presidential election set for May 10.

The number of infections rose to 10,034 and the death toll reached 404, the Health Ministry said on its Twitter account.

A deputy health minister said the rise of new infections "had been contained to a degree".

The presidential election has emerged as a contentious issue during the pandemic, with the ruling nationalists insisting the ballot be held on time, despite resistance from the opposition.


The Netherlands on Tuesday extended by three months a ban on major public events, including professional sports and music festivals, until Sept 1 to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

At the same time, Rutte said an "encouraging" slowdown in the spread of the virus would enable elementary schools and daycare centres to partly reopen on May 11.

Rutte said limitations on the easing of restrictive measures were necessary to prevent a new wave of COVID-19 cases. "

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in the Netherlands has topped the 4,000, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Wednesday.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, 138 people were reported dead from COVID-19, bringing the toll to 4,054 since the country reported its first COVID-19 patient on Feb. 27 and its first death on March 6.


Iceland will inject an additional US$420 million into the economy with a package of measures to help smaller businesses and vulnerable groups recover from the coronavirus lockdown, the government said late on Tuesday.

A summer school term would be established for students in upper secondary schools and universities and around 3,000 temporary summer jobs would be created.

Workers in the health sector would be extraordinarily compensated with a one-off bonus for working on the front-line against the virus, and private media organisations would be offered help in order to "support pluralism and diversity", the government said.

On the business side, companies that have had to halt operations would be compensated, the government said, while smaller businesses would be offered immediate supports loans.

So far, Iceland has had 1,778 confirmed infections after testing close to 44,000 people and only 10 deaths, according to data from authorities.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is now more than 1,015, an increase of 49 cases from Tuesday morning, the head of the national coronavirus task force Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski said here on Wednesday.

Two more patients have died, bringing the death toll to 47, Mutafchiyski said, adding that 174 patients have recovered, four more than on Tuesday.

This April 21, 2020 photo shows a nearly deserted street in Lisbon's Bairro Alto neighborhood, Portugal. (ARMANDO FRANCA / AP)


The Portuguese government on Tuesday announced a set of new measures to mitigate COVID-19's economic impact on "more than 2,500 Portuguese startups."

"The set of five new measures, with a value of more than 25 million euros, could represent an average of 10,000 euros of potential support for each startup," the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transition said in a statement.

Portugal has been under a state of emergency since March 18. As of Tuesday, the country has registered 21,379 cases and 761 deaths. 


Ireland on Tuesday banned large-scale public events until the end of August at the earliest in a bid to rein in the coronavirus outbreak.

"Local authorities have been advised by Government that event promoters should be informed that events requiring licences in excess of 5,000 will not be considered for the period up to the end of August," the government said in a statement.

The government would decide what to do about smaller gatherings closer to May 5 when restrictions put in place on March 24 are due to expire.

Ireland has reported 16,041 cases of coronavirus infections and 731 related deaths.


Russia recorded 5,236 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 57,999, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said on Wednesday.

Fifty-seven people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 513, it said.

Scientists and experts still lack necessary data to determine the nature of the novel coronavirus, and any groundless allegations about its artificial origin are unacceptable, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

A new Moscow hospital built in just over a month began admitting patients infected with the coronavirus on Tuesday to help the Russian capital cope with a growing number of cases that have stretched its medical infrastructure.

Sergei Perekhodov, the hospital's chief doctor, said the facility was equipped to carry out more than 10,000 coronavirus tests a day and could treat patients with respiratory failure linked to COVID-19.


Austrian authorities said coronavirus quarantines would be lifted this week at three of the country's top ski resorts, removing the restrictions days before they were due to expire.

The resort town of Ischgl and the Paznaun Valley surrounding it, as well as another resort, St Anton am Arlberg, were put under quarantine on March 13, followed days later by the resort town of Soelden. All three have been sealed off since then.

"In the last 12 days there were only 10 new positive tests in the whole Paznaun Valley, St Anton and Soelden. For that reason, after consulting with the medical experts, it is no longer justifiable to keep these areas isolated beyond the federal (lockdown) regime," Tyrol's government said on Tuesday.

READ MORE: EU nations move toward loosening restrictions

Austria has fared relatively well in the pandemic, reporting just 491 deaths so far, while confirmed infections have been rising by less than 2 percent a day and the country has started loosening its lockdown.


Around one-third of Stockholm's 1 million people will have had the coronavirus by the start of May and the disease may have already passed its peak in the capital, Sweden's public health agency said on Tuesday.

Stockholm accounts for around half of Sweden's 15,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a high proportion of its 1,765 deaths, including among very elderly people living in care homes.

The public health agency said its modelling suggested the rate of new infections in the city had peaked on April 15, although a decline was not yet evident from its data.

Anders Wallensten, deputy state epidemiologist at the agency said it was too early to say when the number of fatalities in Stockholm would start to decline.


Ghana's COVID-19 cases have increased to 1,154 with 112 new cases confirmed, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said here on Wednesday.

Ghana has so far conducted more than 80,000 tests, the Director-General of the GHS Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said.

Kuma-Aboagye said that the number of recovered cases had increased to 120 as 21 more infected individuals under treatment had recorded their second negative tests, and had been discharged.

South Sudan 

South Sudan has indefinitely extended a partial lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country's COVID-19-taskforce on Tuesday extended closure of all schools, religious institutions, non-essential businesses and social gatherings such as sports events, conferences, weddings, and funerals.

A ban on international passenger flights, cross-border passenger services and a night-time curfew remains in place for an unspecified period, the body said.

South Sudan reported its first coronavirus case on April 5, and the number of confirmed cases has since risen to four. All four positive cases are United Nations staffers working in the country.


Georgia on Tuesday extended until May 22 a state of emergency it declared to slow the spread of the coronavirus, government spokesman Irakli Chikovani said.

The government has also extended a nationwide ban on movement of private vehicles, Chikovani said. The capital Tbilisi and the three other biggest cities will remain under lockdown, meaning vehicles cannot enter or leave, till April 27.

Georgia has so far recorded 408 cases of the coronavirus and four deaths.

Chikovani said Georgia would enter the most active phase in the spread of the virus over the next two to three weeks, and added that the government would only gradually lift the restrictions.


Montenegrin health authorities said on Tuesday they would shorten a curfew and allow shops to work longer hours, cautiously easing a nationwide lockdown as the rate of coronavirus infections and deaths remained low.

The body tasked with combating infectious diseases in the small Adriatic country said the curfew which has been starting at 7PM on workdays and midday on weekends would now be operational between 11 pm and 5 am throughout the week.

"Sports and physical activities are allowed ... with mandatory adherence to physical distance and all other prevention measures," the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases said in a statement.

The country has reported 313 infections among a population of 630,000. Five people have died and 90 recovered so far.


Switzerland saw an increase of 119 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the lowest number during the past 40 days.

According to the figures released by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 now in the country has reached 28,063, and the death toll at 1,187.

As the scheduled date for easing measures approaches, the FOPH said it is planning to launch the coronavirus tracing APP on May 11, in order to grasp and interrupt the transmission chains and help curb the epidemic.

Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis on Tuesday called on neighboring countries and the European Union (EU) to proceed in a coordinated manner to ease COVID-19 restrictions as quickly as possible.


Cyprus' new COVID-19 cases sprang back to a double-digit number on Tuesday, but the increase relative to previous days was not such as to put off plans for the gradual relaxation of restrictions.

Health Ministry advisor, virologist professor Leondios Kostrikis, said there were 12 new cases, raising the total number of cases to 784.

Government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said that the council of ministers will convene on April 29 to discuss plans still under consideration for relaxing restrictions and gradually bringing businesses back to life.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Finland has reached more than 4,000, said the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Finland has confirmed 4,014 infections of COVID-19, including 146 new cases.

The death toll reached 141, 43 more than Monday.  The rise in the 24 hours was significant as Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District added the COVID-19 deaths in elderly care homes in the Helsinki metropolitan area to the tally, THL explained.

A researcher from THL estimated that the peak of COVID-19 epidemic in Finland has passed, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported on Tuesday.


Greece announced on Tuesday that a 14-day curfew will be imposed on the town of Kranidi in the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, in addition to the nationwide lockdown after 150 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in a local hotel hosting asylum seekers.

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

Of the 150 new confirmed cases, two are employees at the facility and all of them are asymptomatic, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias stressed.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday announced 350 million Canadian dollars (about US$246 million) in emergency fund for community groups, charities and non-profits that help vulnerable people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said charitable groups have been strained by the rise in demand for their services while they face new expenses such as purchases of protective gear.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Canada has reported 38,424 COVID-19 cases, including 1,872 deaths.

A child wearing a protective face mask waits for food donated by a non-governmental agency amid the new coronavirus pandemic, in the Mandela slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 21, 2020. (SILVIA IZQUIERDO / AP)


Coronavirus toll in Romania reached 508 on Wednesday, according to official data.

Altogether 26 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, and the confirmed cases increased by 468 during the period, bringing the total number to 9,710, said the Strategic Communication Group, the government agency authorized to publish information on COVID-19, in its daily announcement.


Malawi on Wednesday reported five new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total to 23.


Zimbabwe on Wednesday reported another COVID-19 death, bringing to four the total number of deaths from the coronavirus.


Zambia on Wednesday reported four more COVID-19 cases, taking the national tally to 74. 


Brazil, the largest country in the region, has so far registered more than 40,000 infections and 2,500 deaths from COVID-19.


Mexico registered a jump of more than 700 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, to reach a total of 9,501 cases, health ministry officials told reporters at a regular briefing.

Reported deaths stand at 857, or 145 more than the previous day.

Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said the country was entering "phase 3" of the outbreak, which is expected to see a peak in infections and hospital admissions over the next few weeks.

Mexico's General Health Council unanimously approved an extension of the lockdown through May 30, from the initial April 30 deadline, according to Lopez-Gatell.


Ecuador's health authoritiesare working on expanding the country's testing capacity to strengthen response measures, as the number of cases reached 10,398 and the death toll hit 520.

In conjunction with a month-long lockdown, Ecuador has been relying on mass testing, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said during her daily televised press briefing, calling it "the best recipe" for managing the outbreak.


In Peru, where 17,837 cases and 484 deaths were reported as of Tuesday with 1,512 new cases detected in the past 24 hours, President Martin Vizcarra stressed that coordination at all levels of government was needed to effectively combat the pandemic.

"Our priority as government is being able to identify and coordinate joint actions to combat the disease throughout the country as best as possible," said Vizcarra during a working tour in the Moquegua region.


Chile has reported 10,832 cases and 147 deaths, with 325 new infections detected and eight more deaths within the past day.

"Today we can add up a total of 4,969 recovered patients since the epidemic began in Chile, nearly 5,000, which amounts to 45 percent of confirmed cases, and we hope that in a few more days, the number of recovered patients will surpass the number of active cases, which now stands at 5,716," Health Minister Jaime Manalich said.


The Libyan National Center for Disease Control on Tuesday announced eight new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total count in the country to 59, with 15 recoveries and one death.

A vendor wearing a face mask arranges vegetables at a market in Algiers, Algeria, April 21, 2020. (TOUFIK DOUDOU / AP)


Belarus reported 558 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the country's caseload to 7,281.

According to the country's health ministry, 769 patients have recovered, while 58 coronavirus patients suffering from chronic diseases have died.


Algeria on Tuesday reported 93 new confirmed cases and eight new deaths from the COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

Head of the Detection and Follow-up Commission, Djamel Fourar, told reporters that the total infections from COVID-19 has reached 2,811 cases in 47 out of the 48 provinces, after registering the 93 new cases.

Fourar added that health authorities also reported 8 more deaths, pushing the death toll to 392 nationwide. 

He said 53 patients have recovered in the last 24 hours, bringing the total recoveries to 1,152.


Somalia's Ministry of Health on Tuesday confirmed 49 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the national tally to 286.

Health Minister Fawziya Abikar said six more people have died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 14.

"This is the highest number of deaths in one day," Abikar said in a statement.

She said two more people have recovered from COVID-19, raising the total number of recoveries to six.


The Egyptian Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 157 new COVID-19 cases and 14 more deaths from the disease.

The new figures brought the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 3,490, including 264 deaths.

Meanwhile, 49 cases of recoveries were confirmed, raising the total recoveries to 870, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.


Djibouti's Ministry of Health on Tuesday announced 99 new COVID-19 confirmed cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 945.

The ministry also announced that some 112 patients have recovered.

The country has reported two COVID-19 deaths.


Malawi has registered one more COVID-19 case, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 18 with 2 deaths, the country's Principal Secretary for Health Dan Namalika announced Tuesday.

The last time the country reported a fresh case was five days ago.


Kenya's ministry of health on Wednesday confirmed seven new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, raising the total number to 303.


Nigeria confirmed Tuesday night 117 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the biggest single-day increase since the country reported its first case on Feb 27.

As of 11:25 pm Tuesday local time (2225 GMT), Nigeria has reported a total of 782 cases, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said, adding that it has seen 197 cases discharged from hospitals and 25 deaths across the country.

Lagos, the country's economic hub and also the worst-hit state by COVID-19, recorded 59 news cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 430. The Federal Capital Territory, where the capital Abuja is located, reported 29 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the region's tally to 118 cases.

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday night said that 500 billion rand (US$26.3 billion) would be devoted to relief and economic stimulus measures to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are announcing this evening a massive social relief and economic support package of R500 billion, which amounts to around 10% of GDP," Ramaphosa said in his TV address.

With levels of hunger increasing since the lockdown was imposed, aid would be made available to vulnerable groups, Ramaphosa said.

He also announced a temporary six-month coronavirus grant.

South Africa has so far reported 3,465 infections and 58 deaths. The South African government recommended that the public use cloth face masks to guard against COVID-19.

South Sudan