Coronavirus: Latest from throughout the world - Tuesday, May 12

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the world is approaching 4.2 million.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the death toll is at more than 283,000 while 1.5 million have reported recovering from the virus.

Here's the latest from throughout the world.

Europe

Germany

New coronavirus infections were accelerating exponentially after early steps to ease its lockdown, officials said on Monday (local time).

German politicians also expressed alarm about anti-lockdown protests held in major cities at the weekend, warning that conspiracy theorists and others with an agenda were exploiting frustration with measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

While protests held in Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart were relatively modest in size, several resulted in violent clashes with police as densely packed crowds violated social distancing requirements designed to prevent the virus from spreading.

UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a cautious plan on Monday (local time) to get the UK back to work, including advice on wearing home-made face coverings, though his attempt to lift the coronavirus lockdown prompted confusion and even satire.

The UK has one of the world's highest official COVID-19 death tolls and, after criticism that he was slow to impose a lockdown, Johnson is wary of triggering a second wave of infection.

Russia

President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would start gradually easing coronavirus-related lockdown measures from Tuesday (local time), but that individual regions would need to tailor their approach to varying local conditions.

Putin was speaking after the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus rose by a record daily amount to 11,656, making the official tally 221,344. Only the UK, Spain and the US have recorded more cases.

Italy 

Deaths from COVID-19 in Italy rose by 179 on Monday (local time), against 165 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, as the daily tally of new cases fell to 744 from 802 on Sunday.

It was the lowest number of new cases announced on any given day since March 4.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 30,739, the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the US and the UK.

France

Non-essential shops, factories and other businesses have been allowed to reopen for the first time in eight weeks as France tiptoed out of one of Europe's strictest COVID-19 lockdowns.

President Emmanuel Macron's government lifted the lockdown after the rate of infection slowed and the number of patients in intensive care fell to less than half the peak seen in April. The virus has claimed 26,380 lives in France.

Asia

China

Wuhan reported its first cluster of coronavirus infections since a lockdown on the city, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, was lifted a month ago, stoking concerns of a wider resurgence.

The five new confirmed cases, all from the same residential compound, come amid efforts to ease restrictions across China as businesses restart and individuals get back to work.

New confirmed cases reported in China since April have been low compared with the thousands every day in February, thanks to a nationwide regime of screening, testing and quarantine.

And Beijing said on Friday that cinemas, museums and other venues would gradually be reopened, though restrictions including mandatory reservations and a limit on numbers of visitors would be in place.

Meanwhile, some Shanghai night spots are open again and Walt Disney Co reopened its Shanghai Disneyland park to a reduced number of visitors.

South Korea

Officials scrambled on Monday (local time) to contain a new coronavirus outbreak, searching for thousands of people who may have been infected in a cluster of cases linked to nightclubs and bars in the capital Seoul.

South Korea has been lauded for its quick, effective action on its epidemic, significantly reducing the rate of new infections in recent weeks, but the resurgence of cases has raised worries about a second wave of infections.

Officials reported 35 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, the second consecutive day of new cases of that magnitude and the highest numbers in more than a month.

Twenty-nine of the new cases were linked to several Seoul nightclubs and bars.

Japan

A state-of-emergency in many regions could be lifted this week if new coronavirus infections are under control, the economy minister said on Monday (local time), as the country inches toward a gradual return of economic activity.

The emergency in place since last month gives governors of the 47 prefectures stronger authority to urge people to stay at home and businesses to close, but there are no fines or arrests for non-compliance.

Japan has avoided an explosive outbreak of the coronavirus, with some 15,800 domestic cases and 640 deaths among a population of 126 million. The number of new infections has been on a declining trend over the past week.

Singapore 

On Monday (local time), Singapore's health ministry confirmed 486 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally of infections to 23,787.

The island nation also reported one death, bringing the death toll to 21.

Indonesia 

New COVID-19 infections rose by 233 on Monday (local time), taking the total of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 14,265, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Yurianto reported 18 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total to 991, while 2,881 have recovered.

Americas 

US

President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Monday (local time) of moving to reopen US states from coronavirus lockdown measures too slowly for political advantage, without providing evidence to support his claim.

The Republican president, who is running for re-election in November, is working to reopen the crippled economy quickly against recommendations from health experts to move more cautiously to avoid a resurgence of the virus that has so far killed more than 80,000 people in the US.

Trump has encouraged states to ease restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. On Monday, he targeted the election battleground state of Pennsylvania, which has a Democratic governor, Tom Wolf.

"The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!" Trump said in a Twitter post.

Some of the states hardest-hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 1.3 million nationwide are led by Democratic governors, including New York and Michigan - both important prizes in the November 3 election between Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Trump has encouraged reopenings with Twitter posts calling on people to "liberate" their states, providing fuel to protests across the country including large gatherings in the Michigan capital of Lansing.

Trump.
Trump. Photo credit: Getty

The politicisation of the health crisis is playing out at local levels as well, as Democrats and Republicans clash over reopening plans.

In Pennsylvania, some counties over the weekend asked Wolf to move their regions into the group he has targeted for earlier reopenings, according to media reports.

Officials in Lancaster County sent Wolf a letter on Saturday notifying him that they intend to move forward with reopening on May 15, ahead of his schedule for the area.

"Lancaster County has demonstrated time and time again that our leaders are able to find local solutions to local problems through collaboration. This approach is far different than that of the Governor," state Senator Ryan P Aument, a Republican, said in a Twitter post on Monday.

Despite mounting economic damage that saw 20.5 million US citizens lose jobs in April, most Americans have consistently said in polls they want to maintain social distancing to protect themselves from the virus.

Canada

The Canadian province of Quebec, where a majority of cases of COVID-19 countrywide have been tallied, re-opened some of its schools on Monday (local time), as some parents and teachers expressed uncertainty over the move's safety.

Elementary schools and kindergartens gradually re-opened outside of Montreal, Quebec's largest city, with strict instructions from authorities to maintain social distancing intended to alleviate worries among teachers about risks to their health.

Making up 24 percent of the Canadian population, Quebec accounts for nearly 55 percent of COVID-19 cases and nearly 60 percent of the deaths. Canada has so far reported 69,156 cases of COVID-19, and 4906 deaths.

Pacific

Australia

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, on Monday relaxed bans on social visits, religious gatherings and community sports, joining other states which have begun to ease measures intended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Much of Australia has now made tentative steps to unwind a national shutdown which began almost two months ago to contain the flu-like illness. The measures, which included border closures, have been credited with slowing the spread of the illness across the country to a crawl, from a daily rise of 25 percent per day at its peak in March.

Africa and Middle East

Ghana 

A worker at a fish-processing factory in Ghana's Atlantic seafront city of Tema infected 533 other workers at the facility with the coronavirus, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a broadcast late on Sunday (local time).

He said that the 533 positive cases, which represent around 11.3 percent of Ghana's total infections, were part of a backlog of about 921 cases going back as far as April 26 that are only recently being reported.

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