Global COVID-19 cases exceed 900,000: WHO

EYEAFRICA TV: Beijing, China: A total of 900,306 COVID-19 cases have been reported globally as of 18:00 CET Thursday, showed the situation dashboard of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The global death toll from the pandemic climbed to 45,692. A total of 205 countries and regions have reported COVID-19 cases. The widespread of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on the employment and the economy of all countries.

In the United States, in the week ending March 28, the number of people filing for U.S. unemployment benefits spiked by 3.341 million to 6.648 million as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic ripples across the country, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday.

To put it into perspective, the staggering figure is several times more than the initial jobless claims of 695,000 during the deep recession in October 1982, and 665,000 during the financial crisis in March 2009.

As the disease continues to sweep across the country, some 40 states have ordered residents to stay at home unless necessary, including the heavily hit New York, New Jersey, Michigan, California, and Louisiana.

Non-essential businesses, such as theaters, museums, gyms, and shopping malls have been shut down, and restaurants and bars are asked to avoid in-person dining, effectively paralyzing the consumption-driven U.S. economy.

In Italy, the number of registered COVID-19 cases totaled 110,574 as of Thursday, with death toll rising to 13,157.

Overall, the increase in the number of hospitalized patients and those who died was slowing down, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Some 28,403 patients were currently hospitalized, 4,035 in intensive care units, and 48,134, or about 60 percent of those tested positive are under home quarantine, Borelli said.

Some 727 new fatalities were registered in the last 24 hours.

The number of people who have recovered rose by 1,118 cases to 16,847 since the pandemic broke out in the northern regions of the country on Feb. 21.

In Spain, the total number of confirmed cases has climbed to 102,136 by Thursday, with the death toll of 9,053, according to the WHO.

In addition, 303,365 people were laid off last month, the worst March record for job losses in Spain and much higher than the previous record, when 198,838 Spaniards lost their jobs in March 2009 due to the global financial crisis, said the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security on Thursday, indicating the impact of COVID-19 on the Spanish economy.

A total of 3,548,312 people have been so far registered as unemployed in Spain.

Spain’s nationwide lockdown imposed on March 14 has also impacted self-employed workers, with the number of social security system affiliations falling by 833,979 to 18,445,436.

Bars, restaurants, hotels and all shops except those selling essential items have been closed since Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of alarm on March 14.

In Germany, 6,156 more cases have been confirmed COVID-19 cases and 140 more deaths over the past day, bringing the total number to 73,522, according to the WHO data.

The average number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Germany increased from 81 to 88 on Thursday although there were regional differences, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention.

The German armed forces will deploy 15,000 soldiers to help civilian institutions deal with the crisis, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Thursday.

In France, hospitals registered a one-day loss of 505 COVID-19 patients, adding up the total to 4,019, the WHO data shows.

The number of people tested positive was 56,261, up by 4,784 in one day.

French hospitals devoted 10,000 beds to COVID-19 cases, doubling the capacity when the outbreak began in January. The government promised to provide 14,500 beds in April.

To offer relief to strained hospitals notably in and around Paris and in Grand Est near German border, 439 patients in serious conditions have been transported to less-saturated domestic hospitals or to neighboring countries, Director General of Health Jerome Salomon said at the daily conference on the epidemic on Thursday.

In Iran, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 50,468 on Thursday, according to the data.

In Britain, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 29,478 as of Thursday, according to the WHO data.

During Thursday’s Downing Street daily briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is out of self-isolation, announced a five-pillar action plan to carry out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.

The first pillar is to swab testing in Public Health England (PHE) labs and within National Health Service (NHS) hospitals to find out if people already have the virus, he told reporters.

The second pillar is to create a lab testing capacity delivered by commercial partners including universities, research institutions and companies like Amazon and Boots.

The third pillar is to introduce antibody blood tests. The fourth pillar is to find out what proportion of the population who has already had the virus using an antibody tests, and the last one is to build an “at-scale” diagnostics industry to reach 100,000 per day tests by the end of this month, said the secretary.

His move came after mounting criticism on the government about its relatively small testing capacity, especially the insufficient test on the frontline NHS medical staff.

Hancock also announced that 13.4 billion pounds of debt held by NHS trusts would be written off to help put the service in a “stronger position” to fight the virus.

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