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Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Monday

The latest: 

Several hard-hit countries are beginning to ease restrictions put in place to tackle the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 6.2 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 novel 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. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 26,000 of those deaths are from nursing home residents.

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the World Health Organization for its handling of the pandemic response, on Friday said his country is cutting ties with the Geneva-based health agency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said in a statement on Monday that the generosity of the U.S. government and the American people toward global health has been “immense” and has made “a great difference in public health all around the world.”

“It is WHO’s wish for this collaboration to continue,” Tedros said Monday, as WHO experts discussed the virus, lifting lockdowns and a risk assessment tool for mass gatherings.

In Canada, the epidemic is highly regional, with the vast majority of COVID-19 cases concentrated in parts of Ontario and Quebec. As of 6 p.m. ET on Monday, there were 91,681 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 49,713 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 7,385.

Here’s a look at what’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada on Monday:

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.

People buy seafood from a shack operating under physical distancing rules beside the beach in Brighton, on the south coast of England, on Sunday, the eve of a further relaxation of the lockdown rules put in place to combat the novel coronavirus. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

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 the government is moving too fast.

Some 1,600 people reserved tickets in advance to see the Sistine Chapel on the first day the Vatican Museums opened to the public after a three-month coronavirus shutdown.

Employees measured the temperatures of visitors at the entrance, and everyone was required to wear masks throughout their visits.

Museum director Barbara Jatta said Monday was a day of “great joy” and a return to a semblance of normalcy after so many weeks of fear in the one-time epicentre of the European virus outbreak.

She said it was “a very pleasant surprise” so many reserved tickets to visit. During peak summer months, the Vatican Museums routinely would have an hours-long line of tourists waiting to enter since the Vatican didn’t have an advance reservation system to schedule visit times.

Jatta said museum staff used the weeks of closure to ensure the safety of visitors as well as the art. She said: “We want to share this patrimony but we want to share in safety.”

Spain’s Health Ministry reported no new deaths from the coronavirus on Monday, leaving the death toll unchanged at 27,127, the health ministry said. It said the total number of COVID-19 infections increased by 71 from Sunday, to 239,638.

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.

Quarantine officials disinfect a park in Gunpo, South Korea, on Monday as a precaution against the novel coronavirus. Health officials are expressing growing concern over an increase of cases in the capital. (Hong Ki-won/Yonhap/The Associated Press)

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.

Japan’s health ministry started blood tests Monday in three areas including Tokyo in an effort to check what percentage of its people have developed antibodies, a sign of their coronavirus infections in recent past.

The tests will be conducted on 10,000 randomly selected people age 20 or older from Tokyo and Osaka to represent Japan’s two most-infected prefectures, while Miyagi in the north is one of least infected in the country.

Elementary school students wearing face masks and face shields amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus attend a class in Koka City, Shiga prefecture, on Monday, one week after the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency nationwide. (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)

Some 3,000 people will be tested in each area and results will be expected at the end of June.

Pakistan’s prime minister says he is relaxing more coronavirus restrictions implemented in March, including a ban on tourism, as authorities reported 60 more COVID-19-related deaths.

Imran Khan said Monday Pakistanis must learn how to live with the coronavirus, as lockdown is not a treatment for the disease. His blunt televised remarks drew criticism on social media when he said the virus would continue to spread, causing more deaths if people did not observe physical distancing rules.

Pakistan has registered 1,543 fatalities amid 72,460 cases.

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.

Passengers stand in a queue outside New Delhi Railway Station on Monday after the government eased restrictions imposed as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

A pupil arrives at her class at the City Kidz Pre & Primary School in the Inner City district in Johannesburg on Monday as lessons resume. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Armed soldiers informed street vendors Sunday that as of Monday, they could no longer be in the street after the mayor of Bogota ordered a strict quarantine in the Kennedy area of the city to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Fernando Vergara/The Associated Press)

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.

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