Odishatv Bureau

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. Here are the latest updates on the novel coronavirus crisis from around the globe on Tuesday.

Global COVID-19 cases top 4.8 mn: Johns Hopkins

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has increased to over 4.8 million, while the death toll has surpassed 318,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 4,801,282, while the death toll increased to 318,465, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US currently accounts for the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 1,508,291 and 90,340, respectively.

In terms of cases, Russia has the second-highest number of infections at 290,678, followed by Brazil (255,368), the UK (247,709), Spain (231,606), Italy (225,886), France (180,051), Germany (176,551), Turkey (150,593) and Iran (122,492), the CSSE figures showed.

Meanwhile, the UK accounted for the second-highest COVID-19 deaths worldwide at 34,876.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,007), France (28,242), Spain (27,709) and Brazil (16,853).

WHO chief warns of long road to travel as COVID-19 risk remains high

The majority of the world's population remains susceptible to COVID-19 and there is a long road to travel as the risk remains high, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"This is a dangerous enemy, with a dangerous combination of features: this virus is efficient, fast, and fatal," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Even in the worst-affected regions, the proportion of the population with the tell-tale antibodies is no more than 20 per cent, and in most places, less than 10 per cent, Tedros said.

"In other words: the majority of the world's population remains susceptible to this virus," he said. "The risk remains high and we have a long road to travel."

There have been over 4.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the WHO, with more than 300,000 people have lost their lives.

Its health impacts extend far beyond the sickness and death caused by the virus itself, said Tedros, adding that it is also more than a health crisis, as the global economy is headed for its sharpest contraction since the Great Depression.

"All countries have faced challenges in coming to grips with this virus, rich and poor, large and small," he said.

Tedros said the WHO had sounded the alarm early, noting that when the Geneva-based organization declared a global health emergency on January 30, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China.

"We all have lessons to learn from the pandemic," he said. "Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience."

Tedros said he will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response. He urged member states to strengthen the WHO.

Donald Trump taking unproven drug to ward off coronavirus

US President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, even though health officials have warned it may be unsafe.

Speaking at the White House, he told reporters he started taking the malaria and lupus medication recently, the BBC reported.

"I'm taking it for about a week and a half now and I'm still here, I'm still here," was his surprise announcement.

There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine can fight off coronavirus, though clinical trials are underway.

The 73-year-old president was hosting a meeting devoted to the struggling restaurant industry on Monday, when he caught reporters unawares by revealing he was taking the drug.

"You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it," he told reporters. "I happen to be taking it."

Asked what was his evidence of hydroxychloroquine's positive benefits, Mr Trump said: "Here's my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it."

He added: "I've heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it's not good, I'll tell you right I'm not going to get hurt by it."

Though some people in the White House have tested positive for coronavirus, the president said again on Monday he had "zero symptoms" and was being tested frequently.

He added that he has been taking a daily zinc supplement and received a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic meant to prevent infection.

France reports 131 COVID-19 deaths in last 24 hours

France reported 131 deaths caused by the coronavirus in the last 24 hours as admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) fell below 2,000 for the first time since March 22, official figures showed on Monday.

In total, the coronavirus-related deaths stood at 28,239 -- 17,589 dead in hospitals and 10,650 in nursing homes and other medico-social establishments, Xinhua news agency reported.

Currently, 19,015 people infected with the COVID-19 are hospitalized, 346 less than on Sunday, while the number of patients who required life support fell to 1,998, a one-day decrease of 89.

Confirmed cases totaled 142,903, up by 492 in one day, faster than Sunday's increase of 120. Some 61,728 patients were cured and left hospitals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urges world to work together to overcome COVID crisis

The global coronavirus crisis would be overcome "faster and better" if the world works together, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly.

"No country can solve this crisis alone, we must act together," said Merkel during her video message at the World Health Organization's (WHO) meeting on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The coronavirus pandemic would show "emphatically" that more needs to be done worldwide, for "better early warning mechanisms and prevention measures, for more research cooperation and for stronger health systems," according to Merkel.

"The World Health Organization is the legitimate global institution where the threads come together," said Merkel. Because of this, "we must constantly examine how we can further improve the processes in the WHO."

It was "most urgent" to contain the coronavirus pandemic, stressed Merkel, adding that appropriate diagnostics and therapeutics worldwide were needed. Furthermore, it was also necessary to develop a vaccine which had to be "accessible and affordable for everyone."

"I am convinced that we will overcome the coronavirus pandemic," stressed Merkel. "The more we work together globally, the faster and better we will succeed."

Portugal reopens restaurants, schools as normalcy returns

Portugal started on Monday the second phase of lifting restrictions imposed earlier to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with the opening of several services and businesses. However, hygiene rules, social distancing restrictions and capacity limitations remain in force.

Cafes, restaurants (also with outdoor terraces), museums and shops up to 400 square meters can now reopen after weeks of confinement, Xinhua news agency reported.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa had his morning coffee at a pastry shop in Lisbon's Benfica neighbourhood in an attempt to encourage "normal" activity.

The head of government stressed the need to respect the health and safety measures, such as the use of disinfectant gels, keeping a distance between tables and employees wearing masks or gloves.

He appealed to the Portuguese to resume "their life in freedom, overcome fears, with confidence but always with caution."

Safety was also the watchword when about 80 per cent of students in the last two years of high school returned to the country's over 500 schools. Daycare centres also reopened on Monday.

(With IANS Inputs)

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