Several hard-hit countries are beginning to ease restrictions put in place to tackle the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 6.1 million people worldwide.
According to a tally of coronavirus cases and deaths maintained by Johns Hopkins University, there have been about 372,000 deaths to date. The true death toll is believed to be significantly higher, as many victims died of the virus without ever being tested.
The new virus, SARS-CoV-2, causes an illness called COVID-19. While most who contract the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms, some people — especially older adults and people with pre-existing health issues — face a higher risk of severe illness and death.
The U.S. is still the hardest-hit nation in the world, with almost 1.8 million cases and more than 104,000 deaths.
In Canada, as of 8 a.m. ET, there were 90,947 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 48,892 of those cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 7,358.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world on Monday, from reopenings in the United Kingdom to concerns about increasing cases in South Korea and Colombia.
Britain has begun cautiously easing lockdown restrictions despite warnings from some health officials that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is still too great.
Some schools are reopening and some social restrictions have been relaxed, allowing people to have limited contact with family and friends as long as it is done outdoors and with physical distancing. Restrictions on some of society’s most vulnerable have also been eased as the government moves to restore some normalcy in daily life and to revive the economy.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma told the BBC that the government is taking action in phases to ease restrictions in place since March 23. “This is not a dash,” he said.
The Association of Directors of Public Health has warned that experts are worried that the government is moving too fast.
A long line of masked visitors snaked outside the Vatican Museums as one of Italy’s biggest tourist draws reopened after a three-month coronavirus shutdown.
Museum director Barbara Jatta popped out of the museum Monday and appeared to briefly greet visitors waiting on line, spaced apart, to have their temperatures taken before being allowed to tour the Sistine Chapel and other treasures.
Across town, Rome’s other big attraction — the Colosseum — also opened its ancient doors, but it appeared there were more television crews than tourists on hand.
Vatican Museums all to Italians as it reopened today. Here are the first visitors to gaze upon the Sistine Chapel, crowd-free. 1,600 people will pass through today. Usually, 20,000 visit in a day. <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCNews</a> <a href=”https://t.co/r60jLs436q”>pic.twitter.com/r60jLs436q</a>
Italy on Wednesday will further loosen travel restrictions in the onetime epicentre of Europe’s pandemic in a bid to reboot the tourism industry that accounts for some 13 per cent of the national GDP. Italians will be allowed to freely move about the country and European Union visitors will be welcomed without quarantine requirements. Despite the government’s go-ahead, some regional governors are pressing for some ability to trace tourists or test them to make sure they aren’t bringing the virus with them.
The Russian capital has eased the restrictions intended to stem the coronavirus outbreak, allowing all non-food retailers and some other businesses to reopen.
Monday’s reopening of retail stores along with dry cleaners and repair shops comes as the pace of contagion has stabilized in the Russian capital, which has accounted for about half of the nation’s infections. Residents are also allowed now to walk in the parks and engage in sports activities with time restrictions. Restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and gyms remain closed and people are still required to obtain electronic passes for travelling.
Most Russian regions were in lockdown since late March, but many already have eased the restrictions to stem the economic pain. Russia has registered nearly 415,000 infections, the world’s third-highest caseload behind the United States and Brazil. Some experts in Russia and abroad have voiced doubts about the nation’s relatively low death toll of 4,855, alleging that authorities might have underreported coronavirus mortality for political reasons. Officials have rejected the claims, saying the low death toll reflects efficient preventative measures and broad testing.
South Korea’s top infectious disease expert has pleaded with people over 65, pregnant women and other medically vulnerable individuals to stay at home as officials struggle to trace and stem the spread of the coronavirus amid increased public activity.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made the comments on Monday while addressing 24 new cases linked to a group of churches near Seoul.
She also raised concern over the hundreds of transmissions linked to workplaces, including call centres and at least one massive warehouse.
“We have been seeing an increased number of high-risk patients who have been infected through family members or religious gatherings,” Jeong said.
“There’s a particular need for people over 65 years in age, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions to be alert.” She recommended that they avoid face-to-face gatherings with others.
South Korea has so far reported more than 11,000 cases and around 270 deaths.
China, where the novel virus was first reported late last year, reported 16 new cases on Monday, all in travellers newly arrived from abroad. Eleven of those arrived in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Friday aboard the same flight from Cairo, the Chengdu city government said in a statement. With local transmissions having fallen to virtually zero, much of China has reopened for business and Monday saw the further restart of classes in middle and high schools. Kindergartners and fourth- and fifth-graders will be allowed back next week as part of a staggered opening to prevent the further spread of the virus.
India has registered 230 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 5,394 as the country begins its three-stage reopening on Monday. The lockdown is being eased in most places except for the containment zones now isolated due to coronavirus outbreaks.
The Health Ministry said India had 190,535 cases, which is the seventh-most worldwide, exceeding Germany and France. More than 60 per cent of India’s COVID-19 fatalities have occurred in just two states — Maharashtra, the financial and entertainment hub of India, and Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Experts say that although India’s cases are increasing rapidly, it is nowhere close to the peak of the outbreak. But the government is still easing the lockdown to lessen some of the economic pain and hardship.
The railways will run 200 more special passenger trains from Monday and some states have opened their borders to vehicular traffic.
Maharashtra has allowed shops and offices to open outside containment zones and given a nod to the resumption of film shoots with some restrictions in place.
There are concerns that the virus may be spreading through India’s villages as millions of jobless migrant workers returned home from cities during the lockdown.
South Africa sought to revive its stuttering economy on Monday with the partial lifting of its coronavirus lockdown, letting people out for work, worship or shopping, and allowing mines and factories to run at full capacity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was widely praised when he ordered a strict lockdown at the end of March, but the measures have battered the economy of Africa’s most industrialized nation, which was already in recession before the coronavirus.
South Africa’s central bank expects the economy, which has been hard hit by the impact of power cuts at crisis-hit state energy firm Eskom, to contract by seven per cent this year.
But moving to “Level 3” lockdown so soon has been questioned by some who say it will inevitably increase the number of coronavirus cases, which jumped above 30,000 over the weekend.
The U.S. has sent to Brazil more than two million doses of a malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as potentially protecting against and treating the coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence. Brazil, Latin America’s hardest-hit country, continues to see a surge in virus cases, and last week Trump announced that the U.S. was restricting travel from the country.
In Bogota, Colombia’s capital, authorities were locking down an area of nearly 1.5 million people as cases continued to rise.
In Saudi Arabia, mosques reopened Sunday for the first time in more than two months, but Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remained closed.
In Jerusalem, throngs of worshippers waited outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque before it reopened. Many wore surgical masks and waited for temperature checks as they entered.
Meanwhile, Egypt on Sunday reported its highest-ever number of infections and deaths from the virus — 46 over the previous 24 hours, with 1,536 confirmed cases.