Coronavirus deaths drop significantly in Europe, but nations cautious




Despite a dramatic decline in the number of deaths from coronavirus in Europe, the region is generally taking a slow approach in easing restrictions.

Among the 281 worldwide who have been killed by the outbreak, more than 152,000 were in Europe. But 869 deaths were reported Sunday, including Italy, which was at one time the epicenter, with 165 from a high of 919 on March 27, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. Italy is third in the world with the most deaths, 30,560, but last week was displaced by Britain, which is now at 31,855 and reported 268 deaths. No. 4 Spain on Sunday announced 143 deaths after a high of 961 on April 2. And No. 5 France added 80 deaths Saturday, a fraction of the high of 1,438 on April 15.

Three European nations in the top 10 reported double-digit increases: No. 7 Belgium with 75 Sunday, No. 8 Germany with 39 Saturday and No. 10 Netherlands with 18 Sunday.

Britain's death toll is finally starting to go down. On Saturday, Britain announced 346 more deaths, third in the world behind the United States and Brazil, after 626 deaths Friday and a record 1,172 on April 4.

Because of continued trouble signs, Britain's government is taking a more cautious approach in curbing the lockdown, which has been in effect since March 23. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to unveil a plan Sunday to begin easing the lockdown. The slogan "stay home" will be replaced by "stay alert."

"There will be no grand reopening of the economy tonight," Robert Jenrick, a Cabinet minister, told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday. "We will help to control the virus and in time ... we will be able to gradually reopen the economy and other aspects of our lives."

That will include easing restrictions limiting outdoor exercise to once per day will be lifted.

The leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have rejected Johnson's guidance, which now advises citizens to "stay alert" as opposed to "stay-at-home" to control the outbreak, the Press Association reported Sunday.

"Given the critical point we are at in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives remains my clear message to Scotland at this stage," Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon posted on Twitter.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he may take steps to further ease the nation's lockdown earlier than planned.

"We're gathering the data from the latest monitoring and with the experts we're defining clear safety rules for workers and customers," Conte said. "If the situation remains under control on the epidemiological level, we'll be able to agree some earlier moves with the regions."

Italy has been on lockdown since March 9 with the hard-hit northern region earlier having the restrictions.

On Monday, Italy partially eased the lockdown, allowing manufacturing and construction companies to restart. Shops are scheduled to on May 18 with bars, restaurants and barbers due to begin operating again on June 1.

Spain is slowly easing restrictions. Starting Monday, about half of the nation that has met health and epidemiological criteria will have small shops and outdoor bar and restaurant terraces open for the first time since March 14. Groups of up to 10 people will also be allowed to meet.


But Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Granada and Malaga will remain under the current lockdown conditions for at least another week, Spain's minister of health announced Friday night.

And France will begin a "gradual" easing of its lockdown measures, including French residents no longer have to fill out a form to leave the house. Outdoor activities will no longer be subject to one-hour limits, including some beaches.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said 80 percent to 85 percent of primary schools will reopen as soon as Tuesday. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said "all businesses except caf├ęs, bars and restaurants will reopen."

Germany, which has been successful with mass testing and strong lockdown restrictions, kept the death toll far lower than in other European countries. The nation has only 90 deaths per million, compared with 505 in Italy, 469 in Britain, 403 in France and 242 in the United States.

All shops are allowed to reopen and students will gradually return to class. Germany's top football league, Bundesliga, will restart by next weekend.

Sweden, which has been doing "herd immunity," reported 5 more deaths after 45 Saturday for 3,225 and 401 more cases. Neighboring Norway reported no deaths to stay at 219 and 3 more cases.

The pandemic also has largely subsided in Asia, where only 135 deaths of a total of 21,986 were reported Sunday.

But China and South Korea have seen a spike in cases.

The China Health Commission reported 14 new confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the highest number since April 18, including the first in five weeks in the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected late last year. The nation has not reported a death since April 26. The number of cases is 82,901 and the deaths are 4,663, 11th in the world.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 34 new infections, the highest since April 9 when 39 cases were reported after a small outbreak emerged at nightclubs. Authorities temporarily closed all nightly entertainment facilities around the capital. The nation had planned to reopen schools in stages starting from Wednesday this week as it had planned.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun instructed officials to find an estimated 1,510 people who visited clubs in Itaewon last week and test them.

Korea, with 256 deaths, reported no new ones on Saturday and Sunday, and only eight since May 1.

Japan announced 17 more deaths Saturday for a total of 607 as well as only 88 new cases, the lowest since March 30. The total number of cases is 10,874.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the state of emergency through the end of May.

In Russia, the number of cases continued to skyrocket, including 11,012 Sunday for a total of 209,916, fifth in the world behind the United States, Spain, Britain and Italy. However, only 88 more deaths were reported for a total of 1,915, 17th in the world.

Brazil is also another hotspot. The nation reported 10,169 cases for second place with 156,061 and 664 more deaths, the second in the world Saturday behind the United States. On Friday, the nation set a record with 802 more deaths.

Brazil, which has surged from 7,025 to 10,656 deaths in one week, is in sixth place, about 16,000 behind No. 5 France.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro opposed restrictions and has disdained social distancing, describing it as a "neurosis." He took a jet ski to a floating barbecue Saturday.

He scrapped plans for a barbecue in which he said he would invite 1,300 people. Opponents called it his "barbecue of death."

In South America, all but 15,392 of the deaths are in Brazil. The second most is Peru with 1,814.

The outbreak has been minimal in Oceania, where the death count stands at 97 in Australia and 21 in New Zealand. The last fatalities in both nations were announced on May 6 -- one each.

Police in Melbourne arrested 10 people, including two protest organizers, outside the Parliament House during a planned protest against Australia's coronavirus response efforts in direct contravention of the chief health officer's current directives" regarding large gatherings and social distancing, according to a statement obtained by CNN from Victoria Police.

In Africa, 2,232 deaths have been reported, including an additional 71. Egypt leads with 514, followed by Algeria.

But the World Health Organization on Friday warned that as many as 190,000 people in the continent could die in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic if crucial containment measures fail.

"It likely will smolder in transmission hot spots," WHA Africa head Matshidiso Moeti.

In North America, all but about 9,000 deaths are in the United States.

Mexico announced 199 deaths for a total of 3,160 and Canada reported 124 fatalities Saturday for 4,693.

The borders with the United States have been closed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to shut the border down to non-essential travel in March and extended that order until the end of May last month.

Adrian Dix, who is British Columbia's health minister, said Canada is "not ready" to accept visitors going back and forth, during an interview Sunday on The West Block.
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