France sees highest one-day death toll with 1,417 killed
France has reported its highest one-day death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began with 1,417 people killed Tuesday, according to an NBC News tally.
It brings the country’s overall death toll to 10,328 with more than 7,000 people still in intensive care, while health officials fear the worst is yet to come.
“We have not yet reached the peak. We are in the ascending phase,” said France’s health director Jerome Salomon, adding that lifting lockdown measures at this stage “makes no sense.”
Italian businesses call for lockdown exit strategy
As Italy entered its fifth week of lockdown, businesses and academics have called on the government to come up with an exit strategy, warning that continued restrictions would inflict further social and economic damage to the country.
The National Institute of Statistics described the severity of the crisis for households and businesses as “unprecedented,” saying it was even worse than the 2008 financial crisis.
The agency said consumer spending will plunge just shy of 10 percent if the lockdown persists until June, adding that it had stopped 34 percent of Italy’s total economic production.
Japanese state of emergency has some success but trains still packed
Japan’s state of emergency imposed in parts of the country this week is having mixed results, with previously busy areas becoming deserted while some commuter trains are packed Wednesday morning.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the measure for Tokyo, Osaka and other areas on Tuesday as the nationwide number of coronavirus cases rose to more than 4,257 with 81 confirmed deaths on Wednesday, according to an NBC News tally.
Japanese broadcasters aired drone shots of some of Tokyo’s most popular areas that were now deserted. While the number of commuters has dropped sharply in the capital, areas like Shinagawa Station were packed with travelers at 8 a.m. local time.
“Many have started to cooperate which I am very grateful,” Abe said Wednesday. “With this kind of cooperation, I believe we will be able to lift this state of emergency in about a month from now.”
Deaths in Spain rise for a second day in a row
A further 757 people have died in Spain in the last 24-hours, health officials in the country said Wednesday – the second day in a row that the number of deaths rose.
There had been some optimism after the number of daily deaths dropped for four days in a row after the country recorded a record 950 on Apr. 1. But the number has been rising again since Tuesday.
In total, 14,555 people have now died from coronavirus in Spain and the country has so far confirmed a cumulative of 146,690 coronavirus cases.
Ethiopia declares state of emergency
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, has declared a state of emergency due to the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.
In an announcement posted on Twitter, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali declared that the government had taken the step due to the gravity of the COVID-19 outbreak.
EU’s top scientist quits over frustration with bloc’s coronavirus response
The president of the European Union’s main scientific body has resigned over frustration with the bloc’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement first made to the London-based Financial Times, European Research Council (ERC) president Mauro Ferrari said that though he “arrived at the ERC a fervent supporter of the EU…the Covid-19 crisis completely changed” his views. He cited concerns of bureaucratic infighting and resistance.
“The commission regrets the resignation of Professor Ferrari at this early stage in his mandate as ERC President,” an ERC spokesman said. Italian-American Ferrari was only appointed to the four-year position in January.
Czech coronavirus cases grow but country steadily eases lockdown
Despite the number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic rising to over 5,000, an overall slowing growth rate has given the government confidence to start easing some lockdown measures that have hit the economy.
The country was among the first in Europe to declare a state of emergency in March, which has now been extended to April 30. Like others in central Europe, the Czech Republic has seen far fewer cases than western neighbours, along with fewer deaths.
The government has agreed this week to relax some measures, such as reopening shops selling hobby goods and building materials and easing open-air sports, including running and cycling.
Polish priest takes ‘drive-through’ confessions
As Easter approaches on Friday, a priest in Poland has found a creative way to continue taking confessions during the coronavirus crisis.
Wearing a protective mask, Father Mateusz Kielarski sits on a chair in a church parking lot in Warsaw and listens to the faithful, granting them absolution as they lean out of their car windows.
Confessions are particularly important for Roman Catholics in the run up to Easter. “From the safety of their car, they can take care of their soul while protecting their bodies from germs in this special time,” he told Reuters.