The number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States topped 95,000 on Friday, reaching 95,276 as of 12:32 p.m. (1632 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
A total of 1,588,322 cases have been reported in the country, according to the CSSE.
Hardest-hit New York state reported 28,743 fatalities among 358,154 cases. New Jersey reported 10,985 deaths, Massachusetts reported 6,148 deaths and Michigan reported 5,129 deaths, the CSSE data showed.
All 50 U.S. states have started the process of reopening as President Donald Trump has pushed for, while public health experts have warned that premature moves would lead to more deaths.
Trump said on Thursday that the United States would not close if a second wave of COVID-19 comes.
“People say that’s a very distinct possibility … We’re not going to close the country. We’re going to put out the fires,” Trump told reporters during a Ford manufacturing plant tour in the state of Michigan.
COVID-19: PTF submits recommendations on reopening of schools, places of worships
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Sunday submitted parts of its recommendations on partial reopening of schools, places of worships and some additional businesses for possible consideration by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The chairman of the PTF, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, made this known to State House correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, the PTF has no problem with state governments that ordered reopening of places of worships in view of the power given to the states to do so by the constitution, adding that the states are sub-nationals.
He said: “That’s part of what we have considered in its totality. We will await Mr President’s on that, once I receive his approval, going forward, to certain recommendations we have put in place, we will know how that would happen.
“The issue of easing up, you know we are in the first phase, we had an extension of two weeks for the first phase, the next phase should be the second phase and along with that will come in with a lot of recommendations, which we expect Mr President to consider.
“So, the issues of places of worships; the issues of schools; the issues of some certain businesses that were not opened hitherto are part of the packages that we have looked at.
“We have made the appropriate recommendations, but you know that Mr President is the only one that can take decisions in respect of that.
“In the framework, the states are sub-nationals, they have their own responsibilities too.
“So, it is in the exercise of those responsibilities that they had meetings with those religious bodies and agreed on the guidelines and protocols on how they open up, but in the framework of the national response we are taking that into consideration.’’
On whether Nigeria is winning the fight against COVID-19, considering the rate of infections, Mustapha said:
“We are winning. As a matter of fact, you juxtapose the rate of cases with our fatality rate, which is basically about three per cent, in other countries and other climes, it’s over 10 per cent.
“But the most important thing that you will realise, when we started this exercise, we had only five testing stations, now we’ve ramped it up to 28, without the expected increase in the number of deaths.
“We have gone beyond 60,000 now, that reflects in the number of confirmed cases
“We have not reached the peak yet and I won’t want to fool Nigerians by telling them that we are out of the woods. No, we are not out of the woods.
“As we even open up and accommodate more enterprises, because we are trying to have a balance between livelihoods and life, there’s a likelihood of increase in transmission in cases,’’ he said.
Mustapha assured that essential parts of the economy would continue opening up to boost socio-economic activities across the country.
“We have started, even in the first phase and the extension that came with it.
“The oil and gas industry was never closed for one day and some aspects of the financial sector were opened.
“After we receive Mr President’s approval tonight or tomorrow morning, we will now know which segment of the economy he has allowed to open,’’ he further revealed.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
President Buhari receives 4th Interim Report on COVID-19 from PTF
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday received the fourth reports of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, applauding the team for a job well done.
According to him, the team also offered suggestions on ways forward in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, quoted the President as applauding the achievements of the PTF and other frontline workers and stakeholders.
“What we basically did was to submit the fourth interim report to him and to appraise him of the progress that has been achieved in the course of the last two weeks of the extension of the eased phase one of the lockdown.
“We also discussed some of the challenges that we’ve had and suggested what we need to put in place, going forward.
“As far as the work of the PTF is concerned, he was upfront with commendations.
“He (Buhari) assured us that the nation is fully behind us in the work that he has charged us to do and that he’s also appreciative of the work of the frontline workers, particularly the medical personnel, the security personnel and the people who come in contact with the patients in the time of collection of samples, the testing and the care that they are giving,’’ Mustapha said.
According to him, PTF also discussed the issue of compliance and the President said “we should continue to appeal to Nigerians and drive home the point that it’s a personal responsibility for each and every Nigerian to undertake to ensure that he keeps himself safe and by extension keeping his family, loved ones and community safe’’.
He assured that the PTF would continue to drive the message.
“It’s a message of persuasion; it’s a message that should make people take personal responsibility for their own protection and health and we will not relent on that’’.
On the deliberate refusal of Kogi and Cross River states to be in tune with the present reality in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, Mustapha said that the issue was discussed during the PTF meeting with the president.
“We discussed challenges generally and I believe that in the context of those discussions, certain steps will be taken.
“We are doing everything to ensure that the entire nation is on the same page with one response.
“It is very important that we realise that no state is an island unto itself, when you deal with public health matters.
“Whatever happens in a particular locality has the consequences of spilling off to other constituencies.
“That is the message that we’ll continue to drive in our pursuit of getting everybody to be on board.
“I can assure you that there’s no island that exists as far as COVID-19 is concerned in this country.
“We must integrate all the responses from the different segments of the community and the state and have everybody to be on the same page.
“We will continue to pursue that and we must also ensure that it happens.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Egypt sees daily record of 1,536 COVID-19 infections, tally nears 25,000
Egypt reported on Sunday a new record of 1,536 COVID-19 daily infections, raising the total number of cases registered in the country to 24,985, the Egyptian Health Ministry said.
It is the fourth consecutive day for Egypt’s COVID-19 daily infections to surpass 1,000.
Meanwhile, the most populous Arab country saw the highest-single day fatalities as 46 patients died from the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 959, the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.
The country also witnessed a record of daily recoveries as 344 patients were cured and discharged from hospitals, increasing the total recoveries to 6,037, according to the statement.
“All the cases registered as positive for the virus receive medical care at isolation and quarantine hospitals in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization,” Megahed reiterated.
Since March 25, the Egyptian government has been imposing a constantly renewed nighttime curfew, of which hours varied between nine and 13 based on the situation, to curb the spread of the virus.
Earlier on Sunday, the government announced reducing the curfew from 10 hours to nine hours, following a meeting led by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
The government has already started gradual reopening of services and offices suspended since mid-March amid a “coexistence plan” to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.
It has also allowed reopening of dozens of hotels for local tourists after they have been inspected and given “hygiene safety” certificates from a government special committee.
COVID-19: Olubadan bans masqueraders’, orders stay at home rituals
The Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, has banned masqueraders’ dance to his palace and to other chiefs during the 2020 Egungun Festival due to COVID-19 requirements.
The Olubadan announced this in a statement signed by his Director of Media and Publicity, Mr Adeola Oloko, in Ibadan on Sunday.
Olubadan directed the traditional masqueraders to observe their rituals from their respective homes and pray for the speedy end to COVID-19.
Adetunji stated that the boisterous nature of the festival has made it imperative for all masqueraders to stay at home and perform all necessary rites until the authorities’ declare otherwise.
He said that the decision to ban the dance was reached after extensive consultation with the relevant authorities and stakeholders.
The monarch advised the people to wash their hands, use facemasks and maintain social distancing at all times to curb the spread of the global pandemic.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Oman reports 1,014 new COVID-19 cases, 11,437 in total
The Omani Ministry of Health announced on Sunday 1,014 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 11,437.
According to a statement issued by the ministry, all new cases, including 371 Omanis, are related to community contact.
The statement also said 286 patients of COVID-19 had recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 2,682. Seven new deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 49.
The ministry called on people to observe the procedures for quarantine, avoid public places or places of worship, and ensure public hygiene.
Iran, Turkmenistan agree to reopen borders amid easing of COVID-19 restrictions
Iran and Turkmenistan have agreed to reopen borders on June 10 as the restrictions pertaining to the novel coronavirus are eased in both countries recently, Iranian ambassador to Ashgabat announced on Sunday.
Iran and Turkmenistan had previously agreed to reopen borders on June 1, but the date was postponed to June 10 for disinfection operations at the border posts, said Arbab Khales.
He noted that at a ministerial meeting among Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as negotiations between the heads of railway companies of the three countries, they have agreed to install sanitizing tunnels at both sides of the borders to help better implement health protocols.
The ambassador did not mention whether the reopening of border crossings includes only trade transactions or passengers as well.
Iran and Turkmenistan closed borders in late February after Iran reported first cases of COVID-19 in the country.
Indonesia reports 700 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 40 new deaths
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 700 within one day to 26,473, with the death toll adding by 40 to 1,613, Achmad Yurianto, a Health Ministry official, said at a press conference on Sunday.
According to him, 293 more people had been discharged from hospitals, making the total number of recovered patients stand at 7,308.
The pandemic has spread to all 34 provinces in the archipelagic country.
Authorities have been conducting coronavirus tests in the affected areas and ordered the public to always wear masks to curb the spread.
The government is preparing for the so-called “new normal”, under which the public would be allowed to resume their routines.
More than 300,000 military and police personnel have been posted in nearly 2,000 places, including shopping malls, traditional markets and tourism spots in four provinces and 25 regencies or cities.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Lebanon postpones oil, gas licensing deadlines amid COVID-19 outbreak
Lebanon postponed on Sunday the deadline for submitting offers for the country’s second licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration in five blocks amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the National News Agency reported.
The new date will be specified later this year, said the report.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 all over the world has devastating effects on the petroleum sector, leading to low demand for oil and gas and a sharp decline in the prices of these two commodities,” said a statement by the Energy Ministry.
The statement explained that the coronavirus hit the financial and logistical capabilities of oil-mining companies, prompting these companies to reduce their investments in such projects.
Lebanon launched in April 2019 the second licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration in five blocks.
Spain registers 96 new COVID-19 infections, two new deaths
For the past seven days, 39 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 were reported.
Spain‘s health authorities also reported 96 new infections in the 24-hour period, compared with 271 new cases reported in the previous 24-hour span, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 239,429.
Of the 96 new cases, 42 came from the regions of Madrid and Catalonia, while six of Spain‘s 17 Autonomous Communities, including Valencia and the Basque Region, reported no new cases in the 24-hour period.
Also on Sunday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that he would ask the Spanish parliament for a sixth extension to the current State of Alarm, which limits freedom of movement to help control the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a televised speech, Sanchez said the “final and definitive” extension, which would come into effect on June 8 and last until June 21, would be “different” and “much lighter” than the previous ones, but would be “necessary” to help his government control the relaxation of confinement measures.
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