More than 6.68 million people have been reported infected with the new coronavirus globally, a tally shows.
The Reuters tally also showed that over 391,000 have died of COVID-19 as of 1500 GMT on Friday, following an outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, in early December.
COVID-19 epidemics in India, South Asia growing but not exploding: WHO
The number of COVID-19 cases in India has been doubling every three weeks but the epidemic is not growing exponentially in the country and in the South Asia region, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
“In South Asia, not just in India, but in Bangladesh and… Pakistan and other countries of South Asia with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded, but there is always the risk of that happening,” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, told a news conference.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, noting India has a population of 1.3 billion, said that the 200,000 reported cases “look big but for a country of this size it’s still modest.”
India set to reopen temples, malls
India will throw open shopping malls, restaurants, and places of worship that typically attract large crowds next week, officials said, even though coronavirus infections are rising at the fastest daily rate than at any time in the past three months.
Anxious to jump-start an economy crippled by COVID-19 and put millions of people back to work, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is dismantling its vast lockdown of the 1.3 billion population imposed in March.
Strict guidelines will accompany the loosening of restrictions on Monday, however.
Total coronavirus infections in India have reached 226,770, along with 6,348 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Friday.
Malaysia reports 19 new coronavirus cases, one new death
Malaysia reported 19 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the cumulative total to 8,266 infections.
The Health Ministry also reported its first death in two weeks, raising the number of fatalities to 116.
Singapore reports 261 new coronavirus cases
Singapore’s Health Ministry on Friday confirmed another 261 coronavirus cases, the city-state’s smallest increase in nearly two months, taking its tally to 37,183.
The lower number of cases was partly due to the fact that fewer swab-tests were conducted, the ministry said.
Philippines reports 3 new coronavirus deaths
The Philippines’ Health Ministry on Friday confirmed three new coronavirus deaths and 244 more infections, the lowest single-day increase in cases in two weeks.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had reached 987 while confirmed cases had risen to 20,626. There are 4,330 patients who have recovered.
Brazil’s deaths surpass Italy’s
Brazil reeled on Friday at a record daily number of COVID-19 deaths, pushing the toll past Italy’s ahead of planned protests over the weekend against the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
In an editorial running the length of Folha de S. Paulo’s front page, the widely circulated daily said just 100 days had passed since Bolsonaro described the virus now “killing a Brazilian per minute” as “a little flu.”
“While you were reading this, another Brazilian died from the coronavirus,” the newspaper said.
Brazil’s Health Ministry reported late on Thursday that confirmed cases in the country had climbed past 600,000, with 1,437 deaths registered within 24 hours.
With its official death toll now above 34,000, the pandemic has taken more lives in Brazil than anywhere except the United States and the United Kingdom.
EU to start opening external borders from July
The European Union will only fully open internal borders by the end of June and begin lifting restrictions on travel to and from other countries in July, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Friday.
Johansson told a news conference after a video call among EU interior ministers that most EU governments would lift internal border controls by June 15, but that some would take until the end of the month to do so.
France reports 46 more coronavirus deaths
France’s coronavirus death toll rose by 46 — or 0.2% — on Friday to reach 29,111, which is the fifth-highest total in the world.
The rate of increase was the same as Thursday, while the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 continued its long-running decline, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Italy records 85 new coronavirus deaths
Deaths from COVID-19 in Italy climbed by 85 on Friday against 88 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases jumped to 518 from 177 on Thursday.
The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 33,774, the agency said. The number of confirmed cases stands at 234,531.
Spain to further ease restrictions
Spain will further ease a coronavirus lockdown in its two main cities from Monday, but will not start opening its borders to foreign tourists before July 1 while it seeks a common European stance on safe travel, the government said on Friday.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said some restrictions would be lifted in Madrid and Barcelona, which have so far lagged behind the rest of the country’s easing program.
From Monday, restaurant patrons will be allowed to sit inside rather than exclusively on outdoor terraces, while children will be able to play outside at any time of day.
Despite relying heavily on tourism, which generates some 12% of GDP, hard-hit Spain has been reluctant to open its borders without a European Union-wide agreement.
Germany’s confirmed cases rise by 394
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 394 to 183,271, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.
The reported death toll rose by 26 to 8,613.
Russia’s coronavirus infections near 450,000
Russia reported 8,726 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, pushing the total number of infections to 449,834.
Officials said 144 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official nationwide death toll to 5,528.
Ireland speeds up cautious reopening of economy
Ireland will accelerate the cautious reopening of its economy, with the fourth and final phase of easing restrictions to start on July 20, three weeks earlier than scheduled, acting Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Friday.
Facing growing pressure from business to accelerate one of Europe’s most conservative reopening plans, Varadkar also confirmed that Ireland would move to phase two next week.
Ireland has reported 1,664 deaths related to 25,000 cases of COVID-19.
Anyone entering Ireland is required to self-isolate for 14 days and the government’s advice against non-essential overseas travel will remain in place for at least a number of weeks, Varadkar said.
WHO continues hydroxychloroquine trial after UK test halts
The WHO is continuing its clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, after British scientists halted a large trial that had been exploring the use of the drug to treat patients with COVID-19 when initial results showed no evidence of benefit.
“There are two distinct trials with their own protocols, their own oversight committees. Therefore, we will continue for now,” Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, told an online news briefing when asked about the British trial halt.
Iraq records over 1,000 cases for first time
Iraq recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time on Friday, with its total approaching 10,000, the Health Ministry said.
At least 285 people have died of COVID-19 in Iraq.
Iraq recorded 1,006 new cases on Friday, out of a total of 9,846 overall. The cases have tripled in the span of around three weeks.
Erdogan backtracks on weekend lockdown after public backlash
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday backtracked on extending weekend lockdowns following a public backlash, but warned about a rise in the number of daily coronavirus cases.
Turkey re-opened cafés, restaurants, and other facilities on Monday, while also lifting restrictions on intercity travel and resuming domestic flights amid a slowdown in death and infection rates.
The virus has infected 167,410 people and killed 4,630 in Turkey so far.
Japan aims to have coronavirus vaccines in use by June 2021
Japan aims to put coronavirus vaccines into use by June 2021, the Japanese health minister said on Friday, as the country strives to be fully ready to host the Tokyo Olympics, originally planned for this summer but postponed by one year due to the pandemic.
“We will be securing production facilities in parallel with expedited vaccine development,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
Japan has not suffered the explosive surge of coronavirus infections seen in some other countries. It has reported around 17,000 confirmed cases and 900 deaths to date.