After reporting another promising slowdown in the rate of COVID-19-linked deaths yesterday, Spain reported only 517 deaths on Sunday, the lowest number since the country’s lockdown began. Now, with much of Western Europe observing a holiday on Monday, the Spanish government is beginning the process of reopening in the economy, despite still being roughly around the ‘peak of the curve’.
Spain wasn’t the only embattled European country to report some encouraging progress on Sunday: Italy reported its lowest number of new deaths since March 19, as the number of people in intensive care continues to decline.
Yesterday was the first day in weeks that Spaniards were allowed to leave their homes and travel to see family for the Easter holiday. Now, on Monday, construction workers in Spain are returning to work after a two-week pause on their activities, though the government has warned that it could reimpose the lockdown if the spread starts to accelerate once again.
Globally, the number of confirmed infections rose by 72,523 on Sunday, the lowest number of additional cases in seven days. According to Johns Hopkins, roughly 1,859,011 have been confirmed worldwide as of Monday morning. Additionally, the daily death toll on Sunday also dropped to 5,417, as the rate of growth slowed to just 5%, its slowest rate since March 9. The US also saw a significant slowdown in deaths on Sunday, with just 1,528 Americans losing their lives. This is down sharply from a peak of more than 2,000 just two days earlier, and represents a daily growth rate of just 7%, the slowest since March.
Europe and the US weren’t the only places to report slowdowns in new cases and deaths. Australia and New Zealand plan to keep coronavirus-inspired restrictions on movement in place despite the two countries reporting roughly 50 new cases combined over the weekend.
However, outbreaks in certain regions are only just beginning to accelerate.
As China abruptly ends a Gilead drug trial that had been hailed as ‘extremely promising’ just days ago, the Indian Council for Medical Research is stepping its own race for a cure after announcing plans for a clinical trial using plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to treat those who are still critically ill, as the country’s caseload continues to rise steadily.
Last night, we reported that China reported its largest number of new cases in weeks, as Beijing’s claimed that practically all of the 108 new cases involve foreigners or traveling Chinese nationals returning home ring particularly hollow when one considers that China has reduced the number of people crossing its borders by 90% as part of its efforts to contain the virus. According to Al Jazeera, Liu Haitao, an official with the National Immigration Administration, said the number of cases was still on the rise in the countries along China’s borders, per Al Jazeera.
The BBC’s Robin Brant had some more thoughts on China’s ‘imported’ case problem.
Imported cases have been China’s focus for several weeks now. It believes the main threat now to be people bringing the virus back to the country.
Most of these people are Chinese returning home. The arc of China’s efforts to tackle, contain and end the outbreak went like this: local officials knew about an emerging outbreak but didn’t act; the national government imposed a draconian lockdown of Wuhan; China imposed domestic travel restrictions but insisted that international travel to and from China should not be cut; the virus spread abroad; China believed it had successfully contained the outbreak then switched its focus to people bringing it back here from abroad.
Something like a cat and mouse chase has emerged – despite drastically reducing international flights into China, barring any direct arrivals into Beijing and insisting that passengers now undergo strict quarantine, people found a weak point.
The usually obscure land crossing between Russia and China in the northern province of Heilongjiang has seen a persistent cluster of travellers bringing the virus with them. New ‘imported’ cases there are almost all Chinese coming home. And they appear to be spreading it. The latest official figures reveal 10 new domestic cases, seven of which are in Heilongjiang, home to that land crossing.
After the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia doubled last week, Russia reported 2,558 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, representing a 16% acceleration over the previous day, a record daily rise, bringing its overall nationwide tally to 18,328. 18 new deaths brought the death toll to 148.
A former chief rabbi of Israel has died with Covid-19 – the highest profile death from the disease in the country.
Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, 79, was chief rabbi of the Sephardi community – Jews or their descendants from the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East – from 1993 to 2003. He was noted, among other things, for his work in promoting interfaith dialogue.
In Ecuador, one of the worst-hit countries in South America, police removed almost 800 bodies in recent weeks from homes in Guayaquil, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, which has completely overwhelmed its meager health system, per Al Jazeera.
And finally, the Washington Post reports that President Trump is likely to announce restrictions on US funding for the WHO later this week over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its persistent kowtowing to Beijing, which Trump argued has jeopardized global health.