Countries around globe plan further easing of restrictions as cases pass 5.2 million

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020   •   227

Countries around the world are considering to further ease restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) despite that the global confirmed infections surpassed 5.2 million.

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the global confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 5,206,614, including 337,736 deaths, as of 19:07 CEST Sunday.

The United States continues to be the country with the most confirmed cases and deaths caused by COVID-19 in the world, followed by Brazil and Russia.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 1.64 million as of 23:32 EST on Sunday, reaching 1,641,585, and the death toll of COVID-19 rose to 97,686, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil has emerged as world’s second-worst hit country for coronavirus cases, with 363,211 confirmed cases registered.

Brazil registered 653 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 22,666, the Ministry of Health reported Sunday evening local time.

The largest country in Latin America also registered 15,813 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Russia confirmed 8,599 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, raising its total number of infections to 344,481, its coronavirus response center said in a statement Sunday.

The death toll climbed by 153 to 3,541, while 113,299 people recovered, including 5,363 over the last 24 hours, according to the center.

As of Sunday, more than 8.6 million COVID-19 tests had been conducted in Russia.

Russian Health Ministry’s chief epidemiologist Nikolai Briko said on Sunday that Russia currently is not ready to lift all restrictions.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order to subsidize regional budgets in the amount of 100 billion rubles to compensate for the reduction in regional fiscal revenue, according to a report from TASS on Sunday.

The funds will be distributed among 56 entities of the Russian Federation, whose tax and non-tax receipts as of May 1, 2020 were below those in the previous two years.

In the United Kingdom, another 118 COVID-19 patients died as of Saturday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 36,793, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

Chairing Sunday’s Downing Street daily press briefing, Johnson confirmed that primary schools in England will partially reopen for pupils from June 1, including the Reception, Year One, and Year Six in primary schools.

He added that he intends for secondary schools to provide some contact for Year 10 and Year 12 students to help them to prepare for exams next year from June 15.

Italy’s Civil Protection Department said on Sunday that another 50 COVID-19 patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 32,785, out of total infection cases of 229,858.

The number of recoveries rose to 140,479, an increase of 1,639 compared to Saturday. Nationwide, the number of active infections fell by 1,158 to 56,594, according to the department.

Of those active infections, 553 are being treated in intensive care, a decrease of 19 compared to Saturday, and 8,613 people are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 82 over the past 24 hours.

The remaining 47,428 people, or 84 percent, are in isolation at home without or with only mild symptoms.

Italy has about 60 million population, and about 21.98 million of them have conducted COVID-19 test.

Italy entered the second phase of its coronavirus lockdown on May 4. Stores, restaurants, barber shops and museums reopened last Monday. Staring from this Monday, gyms will reopen as well.

The Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare said on Sunday that the coronavirus death toll rose by 70 to 28,752 in the country.

According to the ministry, 70 people lost their lives in the 24 hours until midnight on Saturday, 22 more than the number reported a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 235,772 from 235,290, it said.

Starting Monday, Spain will further ease some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, allowing some shops and stores at commercial centers, as well as schools in some areas to reopen. It will also reduce restrictions on travel.

The Community of Madrid and the city of Barcelona – areas that did not move from Zero to Phase One before – will also start to reopen parks, museums, religious sites, and outdoor dining places under strict prevention measures.

The number of patients hospitalized for the COVID-19 infection in France rose by seven to 17,185 in the last 24 hours, the first such increase since mid-April, according to data released on Sunday by the Health Ministry.

The number of patients in intensive care continued the downward trend, falling by 10 to 1,655.

The number of confirmed cases, meanwhile, rose to 144,921, an increase of 115 – the lowest daily increase since mid-March.

The overall death toll in hospitals increased by 36, while the death toll in social and medico-social establishments will be updated on Monday.

The French government this week will announce plans on loosening restrictions, especially plans for the summer vocation, French Transport and Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview on Sunday.

People can travel within the country, but may still face restrictions on traveling abroad.

The Japanese government plans to fully lift the state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Hokkaido on Monday, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Sunday.

The decision came as the number of new COVID-19 cases is on a declining trend and the medical system also improved.

Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under the state of emergency among the country’s 47 prefectures.

The confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country increased by 26 to reach 16,569, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities on Sunday.

The number excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.

In Tokyo, 14 new infections were reported on Sunday, raising the total number in the prefecture to 5,152 so far, while nine deaths were confirmed on the same day. (Reuters)

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City Hall of Justice closed after 4 personnel contract COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Hall of Justice building and its annex will be temporarily shut down after four of its court officers and employees tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the city government announced on Friday.

The city government said Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the closure of the buildings for seven days of until the city’s Epidemiological and Disease Surveillance Unit (QC-ESU) has completed the appropriate testing and containment measures.

In her letter to Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Ace Alagar, Belmonte explained that her decision to temporarily shut down the Hall of Justice is to enforce measures during epidemic or outbreak to prevent spread of disease.

QC-ESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz said they will conduct exhaustive contact tracing of all those who were in close contact with the court officers and employees who were found positive and perform follow-up testing as necessary.

Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases shall be placed on home quarantine or isolation in a quarantine facility as feasible under the circumstances, he added.

Meanwhile, the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) started the thorough surface disinfection and misting of the whole City Hall complex.

The agency said the disinfection began on Thursday and will last until Sunday.

Bolsonaro vetos law on obligatory face masks in Brazil

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

Digital: PART MUST COURTESY BRAZIL PRESIDENCY.

President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.

“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.

Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.

He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.

Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)

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