Coronavirus updates: World’s 2nd-largest continent sees 42% jump in COVID-19 cases – National News

Written by on May 6, 2020


Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed over a quarter of a million people worldwide.

More than 3.6 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 71,078 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:

11:45 a.m.: NY enduring ‘painfully slow decline’ of hospitalizations, Cuomo says

New York is enduring a “painfully slow decline” of COVID-19 hospitalizations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

New York lost 232 residents on Tuesday, including 25 people who died in nursing homes, Cuomo said.

 When it comes to reopening, Cuomo said New York will be “following facts and data, as opposed to emotion and politics.”

“You look at what’s happening in New York … we have turned the corner and we’re on the decline,” Cuomo said. “You take New York out of the national numbers, the numbers for the rest of the nation are going up. To me, that vindicates what we’re doing here in New York, which says — follow the science.”

10:25 a.m.: NYPD clears people from subway during start of overnight shutdown

At 1 a.m. Wednesday, all of New York City’s 472 subway stations closed for cleaning for the first overnight subway shutdown in at least 50 years.

Police officers were assigned to remove people experiencing homelessness who had been sleeping on nearly empty trains.

The NYPD said Wednesday that its officers engaged with 252 people experiencing homelessness overnight.

Of those, 139 people accepted transportation to shelters — a number New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called “extraordinary” for one night and “a very hopeful sign.”

The subway trains will now stop running from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. local time each day.

9:34 a.m.: Trump says coronavirus task force will continue ‘indefinitely’

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the White House coronavirus task force “will continue on indefinitely,” amid questions on whether his administration would begin scaling back the unit’s work.

“The White House CoronaVirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has done a fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources that have set a high standard for others to follow in the future,” Trump wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. “Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.”

The president said his administration “may add or subtract people” from the task force “as appropriate,” but that the team will be “very focused” on getting vaccines and therapeutics approved for the novel coronavirus.

Trump’s tweets appear to amount to an about-face from Vice President Mike Pence’s comment to reporters on Tuesday that conversations were underway about winding down the coronavirus task force perhaps later this month. Although Trump said the task force will continue to exist, it’s unclear whether the team will meet as frequently and if it will truly hold the elevated status it has over the past few months.

The coronavirus task force has a meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, the same time as the new White House press secretary’s briefing.

9:11 a.m.: Spain to declare national state of mourning

Spanish Prime Minster Pedro Sanchez announced Wednesday that his government will declare a national state of mourning for the more than 25,000 people in the country who have died from the novel coronavirus.

Sanchez said he would specify when the national mourning will be held.

Spain is one of the worst-affected countries during the coronavirus pandemic, with over 219,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The prime minister appeared before Spain’s parliament on Wednesday to request another two-week extension of the state of emergency, which has allowed his government to impose a nationwide lockdown that has helped curb the spread of the virus. The country, among others in Europe, has begun to slowly emerge from the strict lockdown, with some small shops reopening this week.

“We have won a partial victory against the virus thanks to the sacrifice of all,” Sanchez said. “But raising the state of alarm now would be a complete error.”

8:19 a.m.: European Union faces ‘recession of historic proportions this year’

The European Union has forecast “a recession of historic proportions this year” due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The bloc’s 27-nation economy is predicted to contract by a record 7.5% in 2020, before growing by around 6% in 2021, according to the spring economic forecast released Wednesday by the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU. Its the EU’s first official forecast of the damage the pandemic is inflicting on bloc’s economy.

“Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression,” European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Paolo Gentiloni said in a statement. “Both the depth of the recession and the strength of recovery will be uneven, conditioned by the speed at which lockdowns can be lifted, the importance of services like tourism in each economy and by each country’s financial resources. Such divergence poses a threat to the single market and the euro area — yet it can be mitigated through decisive, joint European action. We must rise to this challenge.”

Less than three months ago, the European Commission predicted “a path of steady, moderate growth” for the region this year and next of 1.2%.

Now, nearly 1.2 million people across Europe have contracted the novel coronavirus and more than 139,000 have died, according to the latest data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

7:53 a.m.: Africa sees 42% jump in COVID-19 cases over past week

The world’s second-largest continent has seen a surge in its reported number of coronavirus cases over the past week.

Since April 28, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa has increased by 42%. There are now 47,118 diagnosed cases of the disease across all but one of Africa’s 54 nations, and at least 1,843 people have died, according to data released Tuesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, the five countries in Africa with the highest cumulative number of cases are South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Nigeria.

The World Health Organization has warned that the continent of 1.3 billion people could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Many African countries have weak health systems as well as severe shortages of protective gear and testing kits.

7:09 a.m.: South Korea reports lowest daily case tally in 78 days

South Korea on Wednesday morning reported no new locally transmitted infections of the novel coronavirus and just two imported cases over the past 24 hours — its lowest daily tally in 78 days.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded only one new case of COVID-19 on Feb. 18. Eleven days later, the country hit a peak with more than 900 new cases registered in a single day.

Since then, the country’s rate of infections has slowly declined. The worst-hit city of Daegu reported zero new cases over the past 24 hours, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea once had the largest novel coronavirus outbreak outside China, where the virus first emerged, but appears to have brought it under control with an extensive “trace, test and treat” strategy. A total of 10,806 people in the country have been diagnosed with COVID-19, of which 9,333 have recovered and 255 have died, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea returned to a sense of normalcy on Wednesday as the nation eased its strict social-distancing measures that were put in place to curb the spread of the virus. People resumed their daily routines while museums and libraries reopened under the relaxed rules.

The number of new cases reported in the country have stayed low for weeks, but health authorities remain wary of cluster infections and imported cases.

6:13 a.m.: Tyson Foods to resume ‘limited production’ at largest US pork plant

Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies, said it will resume “limited operations” at its largest U.S. pork plant on Thursday.

The company was forced to temporarily close the Tyson Fresh Meats facility in Waterloo, Iowa, in late April due to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic and because many workers had been calling out sick.

“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers,” Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, said in a statement on April 22. “It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply.”

Tyson Foods has since set up an onsite clinic with nurse practitioners at the Waterloo plant to provide workers with diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and daily clinical screenings. The company invited the facility’s 2,800 team members to be tested for COVID-19 while the plant was idle and being cleaned.

All workers returning to the facility Thursday have been tested for COVID-19. Anyone who has tested positive will remain on sick leave until cleared for work by health officials. Workers who have not been tested won’t be able to return, and all new hires will be tested prior to starting work, according to a press release from Tyson Foods.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their loved ones and our communities,” Tom Hart, plant manager of the Waterloo facility, said in a statement Tuesday night.

5:54 a.m.: Russia reports over 10,000 new cases for fourth straight day

Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for the fourth day in a row.

The country’s coronavirus response headquarters said 10,559 new infections had been registered in the past 24 hours, just under Sunday’s daily record of 10,633 new cases.

Russia now has 165,929 diagnosed cases of COVID-19. However, the country’s death toll from the disease remains relatively low with just 86 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 1,537, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.

5:20 a.m.: New York City subways shut down overnight for cleaning

All 472 of New York City’s subway stations were closed during the early morning hours of Wednesday, as part of a new plan for the normally 24-hour system to shut down for daily cleanings and to remove homeless people who have been sleeping on nearly empty trains.

The subway trains will now stop running from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. local time each day. More than 1,000 police officers have been assigned to what is the first overnight shutdown of the city’s subway system in at least 50 years.

Officers from the New York City Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Unit, accompanied by nurses, will remove people from subway cars and stations while workers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority clean.

Most homeless people will be offered space at shelters and in other cases the nurses will decide whether someone needs to be taken to a hospital for their own safety, according to New York City Police Chief of Department Terry Monahan.

4:42 a.m.: Retired farmer who sent New York governor N-95 mask receives honorary degree

A retired Kansas farmer who mailed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo an N-95 mask to give to a frontline worker there has received an honorary degree from his state.

Dennis Ruhnke of Troy, Kansas, was bestowed with a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University during a ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.

“In 1971, Dennis was two credits away from earning his degree in agriculture when his father passed away. He chose to leave school to take care of his mother and the family farm,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, who presented the degree alongside the university’s president, said in a Facebook post. “Dennis’ kindness and lifelong career in agriculture make him more than qualified to receive a degree.”

Ruhnke sent a letter in March to New York’s governor along with an unused N-95 mask leftover from his farming days. New York has been the worst-affected U.S. state in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 321,000 diagnosed cases and over 25,000 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

“If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your state?” Ruhnke wrote to Cuomo, who subsequently shared the letter on Twitter, calling it “humanity at its best.”

3:36 a.m.: UK coronavirus death toll becomes highest in Europe

The United Kingdom has overtaken Italy as the country with the highest death toll from the novel coronavirus in Europe.

Of the more than 196,000 people in the U.K. who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, at least 29,501 have now died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy’s death toll stands at 29,315.

The U.K. now has one of the largest single-country tolls in the world, second only to the United States where 71,078 people have died from COVID-19.

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