Death toll from Covid-19 pandemic crosses 250,000 as confirmed cases exceed 3.6 million. Here are the developments on the pandemic for May 4, 2020.

Garment workers return from a workplace as factories reopened after the government eased restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease outbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 4, 2020.
Garment workers return from a workplace as factories reopened after the government eased restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease outbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 4, 2020. (Reuters)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Italy reports 195 deaths

Deaths in Italy climbed by 195, against 174 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, but the daily tally of new infections declined to 1,221 from 1,389 on Sunday.

Italy's daily death toll in recent weeks has always fallen on Sundays and risen the following day, while the underlying trend has been steadily declining since a peak above 900 daily fatalities around the end of March.

The total death toll now stands at 29,079 the agency said, with the number of confirmed cases at 211,938.

WHO says got no proof from US on Wuhan lab virus claims

The World Health Organization said that Washington had provided no evidence to support "speculative" claims by the US president that the new coronavirus originated in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan. 

"We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus, so from our perspective this remains speculative," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual briefing.

Turkey's test numbers rise, cases decline 

A total of 86,166 people have recovered so far from the novel coronavirus in Turkey, including 5,015 people registered, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. 

The death toll from the pandemic climbed to 3,461 as Turkey saw 64 more deaths in the past 24 hours, Koca said on Twitter. 

The country registered 1,614 new cases, bringing the tally to 127,659, he added. 

Over 35,771 additional tests have been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests so far to 1.17 million. 

Finland to let restaurants reopen from June 1 

Finland will lift some coronavirus restrictions, allowing restaurants to reopen gradually and public services including libraries and sports facilities to start operating again from June 1, the government said.

A ban on public meetings will be relaxed from a maximum of 10 people to 50 people from June 1, but emergency powers will be kept in place, it said.

Essential travel, such as work-related journeys, to countries in Europe's Schengen open-border area will be allowed from May 14, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said.

Sports events and competitions will also begin from June 1, under special arrangements, such as restrictions on allowing audiences on site.

France death toll tops 25,000

France announced that more than 25,000 people had died in the country due to the coronavirus epidemic, after a new jump in the daily death toll.

The Health Ministry said 25,201 people were now confirmed to have died from the virus in the country in hospitals and nursing homes. Over the last 24 hours, 306 people died from Covid-19, double the figure of 135 from the day earlier.

UK death toll rises by 288

Britain's Covid-19 death toll has risen by 288 to 28,734, according to figures announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The increase was the smallest since late March, Hancock said, adding that he expected it to rise in coming days as the numbers tended to be lower during the weekend.

Chile's confirmed cases tops 20,000

Chile's Health Ministry said that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had exceeded 20,000.

Paula Daza, the Health Ministry sub-secretary, said there were now 20,643 confirmed cases in the world's top copper producer, 980 more than the previous day, and 10 new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 270.

Coronavirus cases in DRC jail double in 48 hours

Cases of coronavirus in a military prison in Kinshasa doubled to nearly 100 in two days, health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo said.

"Fifty-six (additional) people in Ndolo military prison were confirmed with Covid-19" on Saturday, the government's latest epidemiological bulletin said.

Forty-three cases had been diagnosed at the prison on Thursday and Friday.

US to rein in virus blood tests after lax oversight

US regulators pulled back a decision that allowed scores of coronavirus blood tests to hit the market without first providing proof that they worked.

The Food and Drug Administration said it took the action because some sellers have made false claims about the tests and their accuracy. Companies will now have to show their tests work or risk having them pulled from the market.

Dutch confirmed cases rise by 199

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 199 to 40,770, with 26 new deaths, health authorities said.

Total deaths in the country rose to 5,082, the Netherlands Institute for Health (RIVM) said in its daily update. The RIVM cautioned that it only reports confirmed cases and deaths, and actual numbers are higher.

Germany faces immunity passport dilemma

Germany could only allow coronavirus antibody tests to help determine how freely people can move once it has advice from its ethics council, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, after securing millions of the tests from Swiss drugmaker Roche.

Germany announced a deal with Roche to get 3 million of the blood tests in May and 5 million monthly thereafter.

Roche's assays won approval over the weekend from the US Food and Drug Administration and the company plans to boost production to more than 100 million each month by the end of 2020.

The presence of antibodies detected by such blood tests may indicate whether a person has been infected with the new coronavirus and may have developed some immunity. That, in theory, could entitle the individual to move more freely than those tested negative until a vaccine is developed.

South Africa starts coronavirus trial of TB vaccine

Hundreds of South African health workers were given a century-old tuberculosis vaccine in a trial to see whether the venerable formula can protect against coronavirus.

Devised at France's legendary Pasteur Institute 100 years ago, the Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine is one of the world's oldest and most trusted immunisations.

"We vaccinated (injected) the first participant this morning," Duncan McDonald, head of business development and marketing at a clinical research organisation called TASK, told AFP.

Trials started in Cape Town, where BCG booster shots were administered to 250 healthcare workers, while another 250 received a dummy formula, or placebo.

Nigeria eases restrictions

Nigeria began easing restrictions in its capital Abuja and in largest city Lagos, heralding the reopening of Africa's biggest economy after more than four weeks of lockdowns imposed to contain the new coronavirus.

The government has said a 24-hour stay-at-home order in place since March 30 in Abuja and the states of Lagos and Ogun — with exceptions only for food shopping and health-related trips — will be lifted gradually over a six-week period.

Masked Belgians begin cautious exit from lockdown

Belgium began a cautious easing of its lockdown, allowing some businesses to reopen while obliging all passengers on public transport to wear a mask under a new rule to minimise the risk of a new outbreak.

On Monday, 150,000-300,000 people were expected to resume work in businesses that have no contact with consumers, such as manufacturers, although remote working is still encouraged.

All adults and older children taking public transport were obliged to wear a mask from Monday, on pain of a 250-euro ($273.30) fine. Shops selling fabric and sewing supplies were also allowed to open to allow the public to make their own masks. Some supermarkets also began selling surgical masks.

Iran death toll from rises by 74 to 6,277

The death toll in Iran rose by 74 in the past 24 hours to 6,277, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV.

The total number of diagnosed cases of virus in Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak in the Middle East, has reached 98,647, he said.

Spain's virus death toll climbs by 164 

Spain's cumulative death toll rose to 25,428  as the Health Ministry recorded the deaths of 164 people overnight, the same number as during the preceding 24 hours.

Confirmed cases of the virus cases rose to 218,011, up from 217,466 the day before, the ministry said.

Bangladesh cases above 10,000

The number of virus cases in Bangladesh surpassed 10,000, the country's health ministry said, with infections increasing in pace over the past several days.

Bangladesh reported 688 new cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, taking its tally since it reported its first case two months ago to 10,143. The death toll rose to 182.

Malaysia reports 55 new cases with no new deaths

Malaysian health authorities reported 55 new cases, raising the total to 6,353 cases as Malaysians began heading out under relaxed curbs on movement and businesses.

There were no new fatalities reported, leaving total deaths at 105.

Indonesia reports 395 new infections, 19 deaths

Indonesia reported 395 new infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 11,587, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto reported 19 new coronavirus-related deaths, taking the total to 864, while 1,954 have recovered.

More than 86,000 people have been tested, he said.

Japan extends state of emergency to May 31

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had decided to extend the country's national state of emergency to May 31.

Abe will consider lifting the state of emergency without waiting for its May 31 expiration if experts decide that is possible based on detailed analysis of regional infection trends, he said at the start of a meeting of the government's coronavirus task force.

Philippines has 16 new deaths, 262 more infections

The Philippines' health ministry on reported 16 new deaths and 262 additional confirmed cases.

The health ministry said total confirmed cases have risen to 9,485 while 623 people have died. 

But 101 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,315.

Russia's cases rise again by over 10,000

The number of cases in Russia has risen by 10,581 over the past 24 hours compared with a record of 10,633 on the previous day.

This brought Russia's nationwide tally to 145,268, the country's coronavirus crisis response centre said on Monday.

It also reported 76 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,356.

Singapore confirms 573 new cases

Singapore's health ministry said it confirmed 573 new coronavirus cases, taking the city-state's tally of infections to 18,778.

Vietnam kids back at school after 3-month virus break

Millions of schoolchildren in Vietnam returned to class after the country reported its 17th straight day of no domestically transmitted infections.

The decision to reopen schools came after the Southeast Asian nation eased social distancing measures at the end of April — with experts pointing to a decisive response involving mass quarantines and expansive contact tracing for its apparent success in containing the disease.

At a school in western Hanoi, secondary level students calmly lined up to have their temperatures checked before filing into classrooms for the first time in more than three months.

Portugal starts to emerge from lockdown

Portugal will begin to ease its lockdown, 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 a s the country takes tentative steps towards normal life.

Shops cannot open before 10:00 am and should ensure social distancing measures are respected. Hairdressers and beauty salons can receive customers by appointment only.

Anyone found not wearing a mask or visor on public transport could be fined up to 350 euros ($380).

Chile orders new restrictions after spike in infections

Chile ordered strict new quarantine measures on three districts in the capital Santiago after a sudden spike in cases.

The health ministry reported a surge of 1,228 new infections, bringing the total to nearly 20,000 nationwide and dealing a blow to hopes it was over the worst of the crisis.

"If we do not win the battle in Santiago, we can lose the war against the coronavirus," warned Health Minister Jaime Manalich.

Cerillos, Quilicura and Recoleta districts — as well as the northern mining city of Antofagasta — would be quarantined from next Tuesday, he said.

Italy begins to emerge from world's longest nationwide lockdown

Stir-crazy Italians will be free to stroll and visit relatives for the first time in nine weeks as Europe's hardest-hit country eases back the world's longest nationwide lockdown.

Four million people — an estimated 72 percent of them men — will return to their construction sites and factories as the economically and emotionally shattered country tries to get back to work.

Restaurants that have managed to survive Italy's most disastrous crisis in generations will reopen for takeaway service.

But bars and even ice cream parlours will remain shut. The use of public transport will be discouraged and everyone will have to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Thailand reports 18 new virus cases, no new deaths

Thailand's new cases rose to 18, after falling to single-digits for the past week, but the country reported no new deaths.

Monday's report brought the total number of cases to 2,987 since the new virus was detected in Thailand in January, with a total of 54 deaths.

The new cases were migrants who were entering Thailand through an immigration checkpoint in the southern province of Songkhla, which shares a border with Malaysia, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman of the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

They were all being quarantined in an immigration detention centre, along with 42 cases found previously on April 25, Taweesin said. 

Germany's confirmed 679 more cases

The number of confirmed cases in Germany rose by 793 to 166,343, data from tracker Worldometer showed.

The death toll rose by 43 to 6,909.

New Zealand reports no new cases for first time since mid-March

New Zealand has recorded no new cases of the coronavirus for the first time since March 16, the health ministry said at a news conference.

There were no additional virus-related fatalities, and the death toll remained at 20, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country is 1,137, he said.

China reports three new cases, all imported

China reported three new coronavirus cases, up from two the day before, data from the national health authority showed.

All of the new cases were imported, the National Health Commission said.

The commission also reported 13 new asymptomatic cases for May 3, an increase of one from the previous day.

The number of confirmed cases in China has reached 82,880. With no new deaths reported, the death toll remained at 4,633.

Australia reports 26 new  cases

Australia reported 26 new Covid-19 cases, including a seven-year-old boy, across three states in the biggest daily jump in two weeks.

The number of new infections could rise still higher as more states and territories report case numbers throughout the day.

Authorities in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, closed the primary school attended by the infected boy for intensive cleaning as they attempt to trace the source of the infection.

In neighbouring Victoria state, a testing blitz returned 22 new cases, 19 of which were connected to a meat processing plant, authorities said. The northern state of Queensland reported three new cases, two of whom had been travelling overseas and one on a cruise ship.

Mexico reports 1,383 new cases, 93 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry reported 1,383 new Covid-19 cases and 93 more deaths, bringing the country's total to 23,471 cases and 2,154 deaths.

Of Mexico's 32 federal entities, only two have registered fewer than 100 cases, deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a news conference.

Trump says vaccine will be available by year's end

US President Donald Trump said a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be available by the end of the year.

Trump also said the US government was putting its “full power and might” behind remdesivir, a drug that has shown early promise as a treatment for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

He commented during a televised town hall sponsored by Fox News Channel.

Trump said he now believes as many as 100,000 Americans could die in the pandemic, after the death toll passed his earlier estimates.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies