A person wears protective equipment while waiting to enter a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. "Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," he said on Twitter. "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus." This comes two days after Prince Charles tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, the United states on Thursday surpassed China (81,285) and Italy (80,589) after it reported over 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day raising the total number of COVID-19 patients to 85,088, the highest for any country. US President Donald Trump attributed the spike in the confirmed cases of coronavirus to the large-scale testing of the deadly disease. "I think it's a tribute to our testing," he said, adding "no one knows what the numbers are in China".
The global number, meanwhile, has passed half a million mark, according to the latest figures on the Johns Hopkins University global dashboard. Cases stand at 510,108 and deaths at 22,993.
Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Italy records almost 1,000 virus deaths in one-day record
Italy recorded a shocking spike in coronavirus deaths Friday with 969 new victims, the worst daily record for any country since the pandemic began, reported AFP. The infection rate however continued its downward trend, with the civil protection agency reporting nearly 86,500 confirmed cases in Italy -- a 7.4 percent increase, down from around 8.0 percent in previous days.
Spain death toll hits 4,858 as 769 die in 24 hours
The death toll in Spain soared over 4,800 Friday after 769 people died in 24 hours, in what was a record one-day figure for fatalities, the AFP quoted the government as saying. Health ministry figures showed the number of deaths reaching 4,858, while cases jumped to 64,059, although the rate of new infections appeared to be slowing, registering a 14 percent increase compared with 18 per cent a day earlier.
UK PM Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that he has tested positive for coronavirus after experiencing mild symptoms and is now self-isolating at 10 Downing Street in line with the medical advice.
In a video message posted on social media, the UK prime minister said that he will continue to lead the UK government's response to the deadly virus, which has claimed 578 lives.
"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson, 55, said on Twitter.
"I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this," he said.
A Downing Street spokesperson said that after experiencing mild symptoms on Thursday, the prime minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty.
Washington set to deliver USD 2.2 trillion virus rescue bill
With rare bipartisanship and speed, Washington is about to deliver massive, unprecedented legislation to speed help to individuals and businesses as the coronavirus pandemic takes a devastating toll on the US economy and health care system.
The House is set to pass the sprawling, USD 2.2 trillion measure Friday morning after an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday. President Donald Trump marveled at the unanimity Thursday and is eager to sign the package into law. The relief can hardly come soon enough. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday the economy 'may well be in recession' already and the government reported a shocking 3.3 million burst of weekly jobless claims, more than four times the previous record. The U.S. death toll has surpassed 1,000 from the virus.
Trump discusses COVID-19 crisis with Xi
The leaders of China and the United States spoke over phone on Friday in an attempt to ease tensions building between the two countries over the coronavius pandemic. Soon after, Trump tweeted saying that both the countries are working closely over the issue.
Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence had earlier said it is important for hospitals and labs testing the samples to report back to the Centre for Disease Control and Federal Emergency Management Agency so that the government has full visibility to provide the President with the best counsel.
At least 1,290 Americans have died due to coronavirus so far. Over 2,000 coronavirus cases were reportedly in a serious condition. The number of confirmed cases as well as the deaths due to COVID-19 are likely to increase substantially in the coming days.
French PM warns 'difficult' days ahead over coronavirus
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe raised the alarm Friday over an "extremely high" surge in coronavirus cases in the country and warned things will be "difficult" in the coming days. After 365 people died and more than 2,300 people were hospitalised in France in a single day, the military sent a plane Friday to evacuate six patients from the hard-hit east of the country where hospitals are overstretched. "We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon," Philippe said.
The premier warned the country must "remain extremely mobilised" in the fight against the epidemic that has so far officially claimed 1,696 lives.
China reports one local transmission after three days
Passengers wear protective suits and face masks as they arrive at the Hong Kong airport. (AP Photo)
Mainland China reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus case in three days and 54 new imported cases. The 55 new cases reported on Thursday was down from 67 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Friday. There are now 81,340 confirmed cases in mainland China. The death toll stands at 3,292 with five new deaths. Imported coronavirus cases, mostly Chinese nationals returning home, now pose the biggest concern for authorities. Shanghai reported the most new imported cases with 17, followed by 12 in Guangdong and four each in capital Beijing and nearby Tianjin. Shanghai is currently treating a total of 125 patients who entered the city from overseas, including 46 arriving from Britain and 27 from the United States. Hubei province, a region of some 60 million people where the virus first appeared late last year, reported zero new cases on Thursday - a day after lifting a lockdown and reopening its borders as the epidemic there eased.
An Expert Explains: ‘WHO’s underfunding hits global disease response’
Italy reports 6,153 new coronavirus infections
Elderly hosts of the retirement home Giovanni XIII affected by coronavirus, are being evacuated to hospital, in Rome, on Wednesday. (AP)
Italy has reported 6,153 new coronavirus infections with total 80,539 cases, so far. Italy's Civil Protection Agency reported 662 deaths on Thursday, bringing the country's death toll to 8,165, which is the highest in the world. Italy has also become the first western developed nation to idle most of its industry to halt the spread of the coronavirus, in a potential cautionary tale for other governments, such as the Trump administration, that are resisting such drastic measures. After more than two weeks of a nationwide lockdown, the Italian government decided to expand the mandatory closure of nonessential commercial activities to heavy industry in the eurozone's third-largest economy, a major exporter of machinery, textiles and other goods. The move by Italy, which is leading the globe in virus deaths, is more in line with draconian measures taken by China than with declarations coming out of other democratic partners, who are at least a week or two behind Italy's rate of virus infections.
France records 365 deaths, highest in a day
Medical staff at the intensive care unit of the Casalpalocco COVID-19 Clinic on the outskirts of Rome tend to patients. (AP Photo)
France on Thursday reported that 365 people, including a 16-year-old girl, had died from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the country's highest daily toll. Top French health official Jerome Salomon told reporters that a total of 1,696 people had died in hospital in France from the virus, emphasising that the toll does not include those who died at home or at retirement homes. He said that 29,155 people had tested positive for the virus so far in France, adding that the real number of cases was likely far higher as testing was reserved for high-risk patients.
Latin America coronavirus cases pass 10,000
Coronavirus cases in Latin America surpassed 10,000 on Friday, according to an AFP count based on official government and World Health Organisation figures. The first case in Latin America was reported on February 26 in Brazil, which has become the regional epicenter of the pandemic with almost 3,000 cases and 77 deaths.
Overall, there have been 181 deaths from COVID-19 in Latin America.
184 new cases in Middle East
In the Middle East, 184 new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman and Kuwait. The Saudi health ministry announced 112 new cases, pushing the total to 1,012. A third death was also reported. In Lebanon, health officials said 35 more patients had tested positive. There were 14 new cases in Bahrain, 10 in Oman, and 13 in Kuwait.
You may catch #COVID19 and be at risk of becoming severely ill, if you've a noncommunicable disease/a pre-existing condition such as:
❗️Chronic respiratory disease
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 26, 2020
Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa will go into "total confinement" for four days from Saturday to help contain the spread of coronavirus. Governor Gentiny Ngobila on Thursday decreed intermittent four-day confinements over three week. The city will be on lockdown for four days followed by two days to allow residents to shop followed by another four-day lockdown, in a rotation continued for the three-week period.
Afghan returnees from Iran raise fears of another Wuhan
Afghanistan has already imported its epidemic. And each day it adds to it, as thousands more displaced Afghans continue to flow across the border from Iran, which has reported among the world’s highest numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths.The returnees, some surely infected with the coronavirus when in Iran, cluster shoulder to shoulder in massive crowds on both sides of the crossing. More than 115,000 Afghans returned from Iran just between March 8 and 21, according to the International Organization for Migration. The agency said that even if the border crossing were to be closed, Afghans who wanted to get home could easily find a way, given how porous the border is. The city of Herat, with 1.5 million people, is the epicenter of the virus in Afghanistan.
The Wayne Gretzky statue outside Rogers Place sports an Edmonton Oilers mask during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Edmonton, Alberta, Thursday, March 26, 2020.
A staff member sprays disinfectant to a customer at the entrance of a cafeteria shop in Yangon, Myanmar Friday, March 27, 2020.
Here's a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: Are smokers at high risk form coronavirus? | Can Vitamin-C prevent or cure coronavirus infection? | What exactly is community spread of coronavirus? | How long can the Covid-19 virus survive on a surface? | Amid the lockdown, what is allowed, what is prohibited?