More than 120,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the US in the past 24 hours, smashing a daily record set the day before, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The country reported 123,085 new infections between 8:30 pm Wednesday and 8:30 pm Thursday (0130 GMT), and 1,226 more deaths, the tally by the Baltimore-based school showed.
On Wednesday, 99,660 new cases of the virus were reported. Thursday’s tally shatters that record by 23,425 cases.
While deaths remain lower than their worst levels in the spring, Thursday was also the third day in a row that fatalities were above 1,000. The last time people were dying at that rate of Covid-19 in the US was early September.
More than 9.6 million people have been infected and 234,000 have died in the United States so far during the pandemic, by far the highest tolls in absolute terms globally.
The new record comes as US President Donald Trump, who survived a bout with Covid-19 in October and insists the virus will “disappear,” was fighting for his political life Thursday with vote-counting from Tuesday’s presidential election still ongoing.
His Democratic election rival Joe Biden has sought to turn the vote into a referendum on Trump’s handling of the crisis, and vowed to listen to scientific recommendations on handling the pandemic should he take the White House.
With coronavirus cases surging across the country since mid-October, more than 100 million voters cast their ballot by mail or in person before Election Day — the highest number of early voters ever — as many Americans sought to avoid crowded polling booths.
The final election results have been partly delayed by the high number of mail-in ballots, which Trump alleges without evidence are fraudulent.
Health officials in some states have already sounded warnings about their ability to handle an influx in hospitalizations as the winter flu season looms.
The pandemic has also slammed the US economy, fueling a historic contraction in growth and tens of millions of job losses.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has reiterated that COVID-19 is real, warning Nigerians not to get infected.
Lai Mohammed said this on Thursday in Abuja during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
According to the Minister, many Nigerians are not following the government’s guidelines for the control and prevention of the disease, stressing that the only way not to get infected is by obeying the protocol put in place by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the PTF.
The Minister lamented that many Nigerians are living in denial of the virus and that the only time the update of cases by the NCDC makes “impact on them” is when COVID-19 affects someone they know.
“Pray not to get to the hospital. Pray not to get infected. And the only way you will not get infected is by listening to what the NCDC is saying; to what the PTF is saying,” the minister warned.
He added that “We have repeated several times here: there is no known vaccine for COVID-19; no known medicine for COVID-19; don’t believe what any body is telling you. ”
‘Only Known Vaccine’
Lai Mohammed restated that the “only known vaccine for COVID-19” is following the guidelines rolled out by the NCDC and the PTF such as the use of sanitizers, social distancing, washing of hands and avoiding mass gatherings among others.
“There is no other medicine than this,” he explained, warning that “if you know the experiences of those who have gone through this; who are going through this, you would pray never to be infected with COVID-19.”
As apart of measures to fight the pandemic, Lai said the Ministry of Information and Culture will be doing more advocacy to enlighten Nigerian about the pandemic and how they can prevent and control its spread.
The new figures put total infections in the country at 17,148. Although 5,623 persons have been successfully treated and discharged, 455 casualties have been recorded to the virus, according to the NCDC.
The number of coronavirus infections globally topped seven million on Monday as deaths mounted in Latin America, but New Zealand’s declaration of victory against the pandemic offered some hope for the rest of the world.
Europe also continued to emerge from its lockdown, with Pope Francis proclaiming that the worst was over in Italy although he expressed sympathy for Latin America.
“Your presence in the square is a sign that in Italy the acute phase of the epidemic is over,” Francis said on Sunday while addressing Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican for the first time since the COVID-19 crisis began.
“Unfortunately in other countries — I am thinking of some of them — the virus continues to claim many victims.”
Rising numbers of deaths were recorded from Brazil to Mexico to Peru, driving the confirmed global death toll above 400,000 and the number of declared infections over seven million, according to an AFP tally.
Brazil’s crisis is escalating and it has the world’s third-highest death toll at more than 36,000, but President Jair Bolsonaro continues to play down the impact of the virus.
In Chile the confirmed death toll reached 2,290 after miscalculations from March and April were corrected, adding 1,541 to the figure, health minister Jaime Manalich said Sunday.
The virus, which emerged in China late last year, has forced more than half of humanity into some form of lockdown over the past six months and driven the global economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
China, which has been accused of covering up the crucial early stages of the virus, on Sunday hit back at critics, saying it “will respond in the face of rumours, defamation, attacks and smearing”.
National Health Commission director Ma Xiaowei said reports the government delayed sharing the virus genome sequence “seriously go against the facts”.
– Joyful dance – Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region there was progress, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling reporters she danced around her living room on hearing her country had reached the milestone of zero active infections.
The South Pacific nation lifted all domestic restrictions on Monday after it went 17 days with no new infections.
This allowed New Zealand Rugby to announce a restart to a top-flight domestic competition this week, with fans allowed to pack into the stadiums.
“We’re incredibly proud, and grateful, to be the first professional sports competition in the world to be in a position to have our teams play in front of their fans again,” NZR chief Mark Robinson said.
Thailand also hit a positive milestone after two weeks with no local infections. The only recorded cases came from overseas arrivals who were quarantined.
The kingdom was the first country outside China to officially report a COVID-19 case in January but it has largely escaped the high tolls seen elsewhere in the region, with just 58 deaths.
Fears that large parts of Asia could still have the worst in front of them persist, however, with the death toll and infection rate climbing sharply in India.
Still, after a 10-week lockdown, the government is risking lifting some curbs to ease the devastating impacts on the economy, and malls and temples re-opened in several Indian cities on Monday.
In Europe, countries are slowly working towards a post-pandemic normal and trying to revive tourism sectors in time for the summer peak season.
Britain said it would reopen places of worship for individual prayer on June 15, but also on Monday began imposing a two-week quarantine period for most arrivals into the country — a move that prompted legal action by airlines.
British Airways and the low-cost carriers EasyJet and Ryanair said in a joint statement the measure would devastate tourism and destroy even more jobs.
The European Union has said it could re-open borders to travelers from outside the bloc in early July.
Christians on Sunday gathered to pray at different churches in Abuja, as places of worship reopen following the gradual relaxation of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease in the Federal Capital Territory.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 had recently released the guidelines for the reopening of worship centers in the West African nation.
According to the PTF, people should adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines which include the wearing of face maks, as well as handwashing at the entrances of these worship centers.
It also urged worshippers to use hand sanitizers with not less than sixty percent alcohol content and compulsory temperature checks.
This is as the Task Force restated that facilities must be arranged in a way that encourages the observation of physical distancing, calling on congregants to shun hugging, kissing, and shaking.
Furthermore, the PTF said church/mosque volunteers (ushers, choir, security, etc) that have underlying illnesses should not be allowed to serve just as it added that the time for worship services should not be more than one hour.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has recovered from COVID-19 and has tested negative twice to the virus.
The governor disclosed this in a series of tweets through his official handle on Wednesday, thanking God for his recovery.
“KADUNA UPDATE: “I am delighted to report today, that after nearly four weeks of observing a strict medical regime, I have now received the all-clear after two consecutive negative test results,” he wrote.
“I thank Almighty Allah for His grace and mercy. I also acknowledge with gratitude the massive outpouring of sympathy, prayers, and public support that followed the disclosure of the infection.”
Governor El-Rufai also revealed that his family went through trauma during his battle with the virus, and lauded them for been “supportive as usual.”
He said: “My family not only went through the trauma of potentially losing a member but also the risk of being infected as well.
“The entire family has been supportive as usual, while my many friends and colleagues from all over the world have sent their prayers and best wishes.”
Also, he thanked the Ministry of Health and the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital for their help while acknowledging the leadership qualities of his deputy, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, who has been running the state.
“I wish to thank the diligent medical personnel of our Ministry of Health and the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital who managed my case for their dedicated and professional care,” he added.
“It was cheering to see the determined efforts of our COVID-19 Task Force chaired by the Deputy Governor, the officials of our Ministry of Health ably led by the Commissioner and our security/enforcement agencies, to manage and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.”
He said, “The commitment, competence, and capabilities displayed by the Kaduna State Government in my four-week absence is clear evidence that we have a public service we can all be proud of.”
“I am relieved by my recovery. With the privilege of life, sound health, and the support and prayers of our citizens, I will continue to lead the Kaduna State Government’s efforts to ensure that as few of our people as possible get infected by COVID-19 and that those who do can receive adequate and timely care and treatment. Our emphasis is rightly on prevention because it is the prudent thing to do to save lives, given the limited capacity of our health system.
“I am delighted by the recovery of four other COVID-19 cases who were discharged last week which was followed yesterday with the discharge of a fifth patient. On Monday, we received the sad news of three more positive cases in Kaduna State. They will receive the best care that our dedicated health professionals can muster and we wish them a speedy recovery from COVID-19.
“We must all work hard to ensure that we keep COVID-19 out of Kaduna State. We have lower infection rates than expected due to the stringent measures we imposed in our state, but we cannot let our guards down. We are in dangerous times. This disease is a threat to our humanity, our lives, and livelihoods. As someone that has experienced it, I will not wish it on my worst enemy.
“We must reiterate that an infected person can show no symptoms as I did, for up to two weeks, while unknowingly infecting others close to him or even through casual contact. That is why mixing with many people is not a good idea. While four of every five infected persons show mild symptoms like headache, fever, and cough and recover fully, there is evidence worldwide that older people and those with pre-existing health challenges like hypertension and diabetes are particularly at greater risk of dying if they get the COVID-19 infection.
“We must, therefore, do everything to avoid exposure and prevent the spread of this disease in our towns and villages. We must now make the sacrifices of enhanced domestic hygiene, regular hand-washing with soap, staying at home, and avoiding crowds to defeat this disease”.
I thank Almighty Allah for His grace and mercy. I also acknowledge with gratitude the massive outpouring of sympathy, prayers and public support that followed the disclosure of the infection.
My family not only went through the trauma of potentially losing a member, but also the risk of being infected as well. The entire family has been supportive as usual, while my many friends and colleagues from all over the world have sent their prayers and best wishes. pic.twitter.com/mhPvrfGE9r
I wish to acknowledge our Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, for her reassuring leadership of our team in my absence. Our senior officials have demonstrated admirable commitment & the flexibility to provide governance in circumstances that are so different from the old normal pic.twitter.com/wtM6iMUE71
Oil resumed its painful retreat Wednesday, extending a rout that has torn through energy markets, though stock exchanges in Asia and Europe were mixed following a two-day sell-off.
With demand virtually non-existent owing to virus lockdowns, and production still high despite storage at bursting point, crude markets have been sent into freefall with WTI for May delivery diving to minus $40 on Monday.
Focus has turned to the June contract, which started Wednesday on fine form following news that top producers had held talks — but it plunged into the red in the afternoon, having lost almost half its value on Tuesday, when Brent collapsed by a fifth.
WTI surged 20 percent before changing course to sit more than seven percent down later, while Brent was off more than 16 percent.
The crisis in the oil market caused by coronavirus was compounded by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, but while they drew a line under the row and joined other key producers in slashing output by 10 million barrels a day, that has not been enough.
Crude’s rout “merely reflects the underlying theme that there is no demand for physical oil, and there is nowhere to store it”, said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.
“Disappointment following the new (oil cut) agreement continues to resonate, and responding to that outcry could be the one thing that turns the oil price around in the near term, absent evidence of demand recovery.”
Analysts said the morning bounce was driven by news that members of OPEC, as well as some allies in the OPEC+ grouping, held a teleconference Tuesday — but gloom soon returned.
Equity markets, buoyed in recent weeks by trillions of dollars of stimulus and signs of a slowdown in the rate of virus infection and death in some countries — and moves to slowly ease lockdown measures in a number of nations — are beginning to feel the spillover from the crude collapse.
Investors fear the rout could compound an expected deep global economic downturn.
Innes added that the oil crisis “has negative connotations for other areas of the market, most notably banks, given their high exposure to US shale producers”.
– ‘Reality check’ –
Asian markets have struggled this week, though there were some recoveries Wednesday.
Tokyo ended down 0.7 percent while Singapore and Bangkok each shed 0.9 percent and Wellington retreated more than one percent. Manila also fell and Sydney was marginally lower.
However, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, Seoul and Taipei were all up along with Jakarta.
In early trade, London, Paris and Frankfurt all rallied.
There was little reaction to the US Senate approving a near-half-trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package, with funding earmarked for small businesses, hospitals, and a ramp-up of testing nationwide.
Adding to the sense of unease on trading floors is uncertainty around earnings season, with many firms struggling to provide forecasts as they try to assess developments in the pandemic, which has shattered their bottom lines.
“There’s no way you can predict earnings right now,” Michael Cuggino, at Pacific Heights Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.
“It’s virtually impossible until we have more visibility with respect to how the world comes out of the coronavirus on the other side.”
In Hong Kong, the de facto central bank stepped in to sell the local dollar for a second successive day to defend its peg with the US dollar.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority sold HK$2.79 billion ($360 million) of the unit, which has strengthened in recent weeks owing to near-zero US interest rates and higher borrowing costs in the city as investors look to buy into its stock market.
The move came a day after it sold HK$1.55 billion, which marked the first intervention to offload the local unit since 2015. It last intervened to buy the currency in March last year.
Under the city’s Linked Exchange Rate System, the HKMA is required to buy the local currency at HK$7.85 to US$1 to ensure exchange rate stability.
The financial hub has maintained a decades-old peg with the US dollar, which keeps Hong Kong at the mercy of Fed policymakers.
– Key figures around 0720 GMT –
West Texas Intermediate (June delivery): DOWN 8.0 percent at $10.65
Brent North Sea crude (June delivery): DOWN 16.9 percent at $16.04
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 19,137.95 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 23,904.31
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,843.98 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 5690.25
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0862 from $1.0859 at 2030 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.56 yen from 107.77 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2310 from $1.2301
Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.21 pence from 88.27 pence
New York – Dow: DOWN 2.7 percent at 23,018.88 (close)
Furthermore, he said when medical officials arrived his home after a series of failed attempts, they could not take him to the hospital since there was no space.
“When the paramedics finally came, they confirmed it was covid 19 but that they couldn’t take me to the hospital because all the hospitals were filled up and the NHS was overly overwhelmed, they said even if they took me to the hospital, I would most likely get worse because of the conditions there so they recommended I stayed at home and fight for my life,” Jumabee narrated.
“After they left, I started having suicidal thoughts, nothing mattered anymore. I got even worse, cough started along with severe diarrhea, my skin began to peel too.”
He added: “Something just had to be done, with the help of many, we found a private hospital after days of search where I was stabilized for days.
“On returning home after testing negative. I looked at myself in the mirror and couldn’t believe my eyes, I had lost so much weight, I started crying because I had thought that was the end for me but God gave me.”
Former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba has offered his hospital in his native Ivory Coast to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a local politician said.
Drogba, who scored 65 goals in 105 appearances for his country and won the Champions League with the English club during his playing career, has proposed the use of the Laurent Pokou hospital in Abidjan.
“We thank Drogba for this gift considered as an act of patriotism,” the head of the city’s regional council Vincent Toh Bi said.
The Lagos Government has denied relaxing the lockdown in the state as the Easter celebration starts this weekend.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday, March 29th 2020, announced a 14-day lockdown on Lagos, Ogun State and Abuja to curb the spread of COVID-19.
There have been rumours in some quarters that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos will relax the curfew this weekend for the Easter celebrations, but the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho has said the lockdown has not been relaxed.
Mr. Gbenga said this on Thursday during a joint ministerial briefing on COVID-19 intervention in the state.
“Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has not relaxed any lockdown. The lockdown is still on and we enjoin Lagosians to continue to obey the directive; to continue to be responsible,” he said.
“Because that is the only way the experts have said we can fight this disease. We don’t want to just allow the gains of the moment; the gains that we have made, to be eviscerated by just the enjoyment of a few days.”
According to the commissioner, the extension or relaxation of the lockdown will be made by the Federal Government, enjoining Lagosians.
“If it is going to be extended or relaxed, it is the business of the Federal Government. The announcement is not going to be made by Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu because he did not impose it in the first place,” the commissioner explained.