Updated: May 2, 2020 12:20:44 pm
As the coronavirus pandemic enters its fifth month since it originated in December, the total confirmed cases worldwide have crossed 3.4 million with 238,663 fatalities as on May 2. Over 1,000,000 people have recovered from the virus till now, according to John Hopkins University tally. The United States continues to remain the worst affected country globally, even as at least 30 US states start to ease lockdown measures by opening restaurants and other businesses. The virus has killed more than 230,000 people worldwide, including over 64,000 in the U.S.
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Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration has said that remdesivir is the first drug shown to help fight the coronavirus, even as it allowed the emergency use of this experimental drug.
Here are the latest Covid-19 developments from around the globe:
China mishandled coronavirus outbreak, says White House
The White House Friday said China “mishandled the situation” after it originated in Wuhan a day after President Donald Trump threatened to use tariffs as a tool against China for mishandling the crisis.
The White House however refrained from giving a definitive answer on retaliatory measures against the country. The United States is one of the several countries including Germany, Britain and Australian to blame China for the spread of the current pandemic.
FDA allows emergency use of remdesivir drug for coronavirus patients
US Food and Drug Administration Friday allowed the emergency use of an experimental drug that appears to help some coronavirus patients recover faster. This will be the first drug shown to help fighting the virus. The US regulators acted post preliminary results from a government sponsored study showed that Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir drug reduced the time of recovery by 31% or about 4 days on a average for hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
The study of 1,063 patients is the largest and most strict test of the drug and included a comparison group that received just usual care so remdesivir’s effects could be rigorously evaluated.
President Donald Trump announced the FDA’s action at the White House. Those given the drug were able to leave the hospital in 11 days on average versus 15 days for the comparison group.
The National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci said the drug would become a new standard of care for severely ill Covid-19 patients like those in this study.
France reports lowest daily virus toll in five weeks
France reported its smallest number of deaths in a 24 hour period in more than 5 weeks on Friday with 218 coronavirus deaths.The last time the country recorded such a low daily number of fatalities was March 23, when there were 186 registered deaths. France has the fourth highest death toll in Europe, with 24,594.
The government has announced the country’s strict lockdown will be eased from May 11, but the pace will be slower in harder hit areas such as the greater Paris area and the northeast quarter of the country.
Coronavirus cases in Pakistan cross 17,000
Pakistan Friday reported 882 fresh Covid-19 cases taking the total number of infections in the country to 17,699 along with 408 fatalities, according to the Ministry of National health Services.
Punjab reported 6,340 cases, Sindh 6,675, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 2,799, Balochistan 1,136, Islamabad 343, Gilgit-Baltistan 340 cases, according to the latest data released by the ministry.
The health ministry said that so far 182,131 tests had been conducted, including 7,971 on April 30. “There were 3,706 patients admitted in 717 hospitals with COVID-19 facilities across the country. The rest of the patients were isolated at homes,” according to the ministry.Advisor on Health Zafar Mirza said that either the end of May or middle of June could be the peak period for coronavirus in the country.
World’s largest mall reopens with restrictions
Dubai mall which is touted as the world’s largest mall, re-opened with a set of guidelines this week under strict safeguards after being shut down for a month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Children between the ages of 3 and 12, elderly over 60 years and people in higher group risks are prohibited to enter the mall.
Visitor guidelines such as wearing a mask and not staying inside the complex for longer than 3 hours were put in place as precautionary measures in the fight against COVID-19.
The mall was shut on March 23 and Dubai had been under an overnight curfew along with the rest of UAE since March 26.
South Korea continues to flatten its curve
South Korea continued its month-long streak of less than 100 cases, with 6 fresh cases reported Saturday. This brought national figures to 10,780 cases and 250 virus-related deaths, according to figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Out of these at least 1,081 cases have been linked to international arrivals.
With reduction in cases, government officials have been relaxing social distancing guidelines and shifting focus to ease the shock on the economy.During the first three months of the year, the economy saw its worst contraction since late 2008 as the pandemic hit both domestic consumption and exports.
Malaysia rounding up undocumented migrants to contain coronavirus
According to the Malaysian police force,authorities are rounding up undocumented migrants as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, after hundreds of migrants and refugees were detained in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Over 700 migrants were taken into custody, including young children and ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, during Friday’s raid in a downtown area where thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers live, rights groups had said.
The operation was aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas amid movement curbs imposed to contain the spread of the outbreak.
IMF grants $643 million loan to fight coronavirus in Ecuador
The International Monetary Fund Friday approved a request from Ecuador for emergency financing to fight the coronavirus pandemic, granting a $643 million loan, the Andean country’s economy ministry said .Ecuador has been among the hardest-hit countries in Latin America by the coronavirus, with 24,675 confirmed cases and 883 deaths.
“This financing will allow us to have the necessary liquidity to support the reactivation of the economy, and protect jobs,” the ministry said in a statement.
Britain hits it’s target of 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day
Britain has hit its target of carrying out 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day, health minister Matt Hancock said on Friday, stressing that the programme was crucial to helping ease a national lockdown. Hancock set the target of reaching 100,000 tests by the end of April after being criticised for moving too slowly on mass testing compared to other countries like Germany.
Since then, the government has increased the number of drive-through testing sites, begun sending out home tests and has rapidly expanded the number of people eligible to apply for a test.
Hancock also announced that the British death toll had risen by 739 to 27,510 deaths – just below that of Italy which was one of the first and worst-hit European states.
More than a dozen US states reopen restaurants and other businesses
In the biggest one day push yet to restart their economies amid the pandemic more than a dozen US states let restaurants, stores or other businesses reopen Friday. The states are acting at their own speed and with their own quirks and restrictions to make sure the coronavirus doesn’t come storming back.
People in Louisiana could eat at restaurants again but had to sit outside at tables 10 feet 3 meters apart with no waiter service. Maine residents could attend church services as long as they stayed in their cars. And a Nebraska mall reopened with plexiglass barriers and hand sanitizing stations but few shoppers.
President Donald Trump said Friday that he’s hoping the total number of COVID19 deaths in the United States will be below 100000 which he acknowledged is a horrible number. Trump’s predictions of the expected US death toll have changed over time with his earlier 60000 projection now being eclipsed. But he said at a White House event that maybe millions of lives have been saved by shutting down the economy.
UN chief seeks stronger efforts to aid elderly amid pandemic
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Friday said the coronavirus pandemic is causing “untold fear and suffering” for older people around the world who are dying at a higher rate and especially for those above the age of 80 whose fatality rate is five times the global average.
Antonio Guterres said Friday that beyond the health risks, “the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty,” with an especially devastating impact on the elderly in developing countries.
The U.N. chief launched a 16-page policy briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on older people with several key messages, most importantly that “no person, young or old, is expendable” and “older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else.”
Guterres also called for improved social support and “smarter efforts” to use digital technology to reach older people who may face great suffering because of isolation and restrictions on their movements.
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