The number of coronavirus cases surges past 4 million with more than 278,000 deaths. Here are more updates on the pandemic for May 9:

People queue to collect food distribution at Harlem's Community Kitchen and Food Pantry service by the Food Bank for New York City during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US, May 9, 2020.
People queue to collect food distribution at Harlem's Community Kitchen and Food Pantry service by the Food Bank for New York City during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US, May 9, 2020. (Reuters)

Saturday, May 9, 2020

France records 80 new virus deaths

French health officials announced another 80 deaths from the virus, the lowest figure recorded over 24 hours since early April.

The figures for those in intensive care also fell, with 38 people admitted for critical care.

Nearly 90,000 people recover in Turkey

Nearly 90,000 patients have so far recovered in Turkey from the novel coronavirus, the country’s health minister said.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the total number of recovered patients reached 89,480.

The death toll rose to 3,739 as the country saw 50 more deaths, while 3,084 patients recovered over the past 24 hours, Koca said on Twitter.

The country registered 1,546 new cases, bringing the tally to 137,115, he noted, citing Health Ministry data.

As many as 35,605 tests were conducted over the last 24 hours, raising the total number of tests to more than 1.33 million, the minister added.

Pakistan evacuates over 250 citizens stranded in Turkey

Pakistan brought back its 268 nationals stranded in Turkey due to the virus.

The Pakistani nationals, who came to Turkey for a visit on short-term visas, were brought back home from Istanbul by a special flight of Pakistani Airlines on May 4.

Italy's daily death toll and new cases fall

Deaths in Italy climbed by 194, against 243 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 1,083 from 1,327 on Friday.

The total death toll now stands at 30,395 the agency said, the third-highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 218,268 while those registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 84,842 from 87,961 the day before.

UK death toll rises to 31,587

The death toll from coronavirus in Britain has risen to 31,587, an increase of 346 in a 24-hour period, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said at the government's daily news briefing.

Iran reports more than 1,500 new cases

Iran warned that infections were rising in the southwest despite falls in other regions, as it announced more than 1,500 new confirmed cases.

"All provinces are showing a gradual drop in new infections... except for Khuzestan, where the situation is still concerning," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in televised remarks.

Besiktas player, staff member test positive

One Besiktas player and a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus three days after the announcement that the Turkish league will resume next month, the club said.

League leaders Trabzonspor, champions Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas are among leading clubs which held training sessions this week in small groups in line with guidelines set out by the Turkish Football Federation.

Besiktas said all their players and coaching staff had been tested for the virus, adding that the player and staff member who tested positive had begun treatment.

European 2021 equestrian championships cancelled

European equestrianism became the latest sport to adjust its calendar because of the postponement of the Olympics with the announcement that it had cancelled its 2021 eventing championships.

With the Tokyo Games put back to next summer, other sports that had planned major championships for 2021 have been forced to react.

The European equestrian championships were scheduled for Haras du Pin in Normandy from 11 to 15 August, which meant they were due to start just three days after the rearranged Olympics ends.

Maldives reports rise in cases

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago nation with one of the world's most congested capitals, has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

Health officials predict that more than 77,000 people – or a fourth of those currently living in the country – could become infected, with more than 5,000 possibly needing intensive care treatment.

Official figures showed 766 cases, including 743 that are still active. A vast majority of the patients are residents of Male, the capital. Three people have died so far.

Spain's daily death tolls falls to 179

Spain's daily death toll fell to 179, down from 229 on the previous day, the health ministry reported.

Overall deaths rose to 26,478 from 26,299 on Friday and the number of diagnosed cases rose to 223,578 from 222,857 the day before, the ministry said. 

Malaysia reports 54 new cases and one new death

Malaysia health authorities reported 54 new cases adding to its total of 6,589.

The health ministry also reported one new death, bringing total fatalities to 108.

Indonesia reports 533 new, biggest in a day

Indonesia reported 533 new infections, the biggest daily increase, taking the total number to 13,645, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Yurianto reported 16 more have died from the disease, taking the total number of death to 959, while 2,607 have recovered.

Nearly 108,700 people have been tested as of Saturday, he added, while urging Indonesians to continue obeying the stay-at-home order to prevent further spread of the virus.

Japan reports 36 new cases of infection

Tokyo reported 36 new cases on Saturday, three less than a day earlier and the seventh consecutive day that new infections have remained below 100.

The latest figures, for which the broadcaster cited unnamed sources, bring total coronavirus infections in Japan's capital city to 4,846 cases.

Philippines' deaths breach 700

The Philippines' health ministry reported that Covid-19 deaths have reached more than 700.

The country recorded eight new deaths, bringing the total to 704, the health ministry said in a bulletin. 

Infections increased by 147 to 10,610 while 108 patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,842.

Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy dies from virus at 75

Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy, the duo whose extraordinary magic tricks astonished millions until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers, has died. 

He was 75.

Horn died of complications from the virus in a Las Vegas hospital, according to a statement released by publicist Dave Kirvin.

“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Siegfried Fischbacher said in the statement. 

“From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried.”

China to reform disease prevention system

China will reform its disease prevention and control system to address weaknesses exposed by the outbreak, a senior health official said on Saturday.

China has been criticised domestically and abroad as being initially slow to react to the epidemic, which first broke out on a large scale in Wuhan. 

The virus has since spread across the world, infecting almost 4 million people and killing almost a quarter-million from the Covid-19 disease it causes.

"This coronavirus epidemic is a big test of o ur country's governance and governing ability, and it exposed the weak links in how we address major epidemic and public health systems," Li Bin, vice minister of the China National Health Commission, told reporters.

Russia records more than 10,000 new cases in 24 hours

Russian authorities said they had recorded 10,817 new cases of in the last 24 hours, pushing the nationwide tally to 198,676.

Russia's coronavirus task force said that 104 people had died overnight, bringing the national death toll to 1,827.

The number of Infections in Russia overtook France and Germany this week to become the fifth-highest in the world. 

Singapore reports 753 new cases, taking total to 22,460

Singapore registered 753 new infections, its health ministry said, taking the city-state's total to 22,460 cases.

The vast majority of the newly infected people are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in a statement. Nine are permanent residents.

Pakistan lifts lockdown amid jump in virus cases

Pakistan has begun lifting the weeks-long lockdown that was enforced to curb the spread of the virus, as authorities reported another big jump of 1,637 cases which rose to 27,474 with 24 new fatalities.

Army soldiers who manned roadside checkpoints along with police since late March when the lockdown was enforced, were seen leaving for their barracks in the capital, Islamabad and elsewhere in the country on Saturday.

The latest development comes two days after the prime minister Imran Khan said he was ending the lockdown in phases because his government was unable to financially help those millions of people who rely on their daily earnings to survive and feed their families.

Khan says he tried to financially help the country’s poor amid the pandemic, but he was unable to support all those who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. 

So far, Khan has bowed to pressure from the country’s powerful clerical establishment by allowing mosques to remain open, even as the number of new cases has recently increased.

Thailand reports four new cases, one new death

Thailand reported four new cases and one more death, bringing the total to 3,004 cases and 56 deaths since the outbreak started in January.

A 68-year-old man from Bangkok died, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Of the new cases, two are from the southern province of Yala, where the authorities are aggressively testing people due to high infection rates.  One was linked with previous cases and one had a risk history from public places , he said.

Slowing numbers of new cases have prompted Thailand to cautiously allow some businesses to reopen after weeks of semi-lockdown.

Milan a ticking virus 'bomb', virologist warns

Italy's economic capital Milan is a virus time "bomb" at risk of erupting with residents now free to move around after two months under a pandemic lockdown. 

Milan, is "a bit of a bomb," said Massimo Galli, the head of the infectious diseases department at the renowned Sacco hospital in Milan.

"We have a very high number of infected people returning to circulation," he said in an interview with the Repubblica newspaper, referring to the easing of lockdown measures on May 4.

Photographs of youngsters sitting along Milan's canals enjoying aperitifs in the sunshine, many without wearing masks or respecting social distances rules, were splashed over the front pages of Italy's main dailies Friday.

Galli said it was clear the easing of th e lockdown "may present problems".

Milan's Mayor Giuseppe Sala slammed the canal-side behaviour as "shameful" and threatened to close the well-known aperitif area if people persist in flouting the rules.

The city in the northern Lombardy region is the epicentre of Italy's outbreak, one of the worst in Europe in terms of deaths and infections.

China reports one new case, 15 asymptomatic cases

China reported one new case, unchanged from the day before, data from the national health authority showed.

One new imported case was recorded on May 8, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

The commission also reported 15 new asymptomatic cases for Friday, versus 16 the previous day.

China’s total number of cases now stands at 82,887, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,633, the national health authority said. 

US VP Pence's press secretary tests positive for coronavirus

US Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary has tested positive, the White House said, making her the second person who works at the White House complex known to test positive for the virus this week.

President Donald Trump, who publicly identified the affected Pence aide, said he was “not worried” about the virus spreading in the White House. Nonetheless, officials said they were stepping up safety protocols for the complex.

Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller, who tested positive Friday, had been in recent contact with Pence but not with the president. She is married to Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser.

The White House had no immediate comment on whether Stephen Miller had been tested or if he was still working out of the White House.

Katie Miller had tested negative Thursday, a day before her positive result.

Australia's biggest states hold off relaxing Covid-19 lockdowns

Australia's most populous states held back from easing Covid-19 restrictions even as some states allowed small gatherings and got ready to open restaurants in line with the federal government's three-stage plan for reopening businesses.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined plans to remove most curbs by July in a three-step process to get nearly 1 million people back to work, as the country has reined in new Covid-19 infections to less than 20 a day with strict lockdowns.

Australia's total deaths remain just below 100.

The nation's capital, Canberra, and some states, on Saturday allowed people to start visiting each other again, with indoor and outdoor gatherings, including weddings, of up to 10 people allowed.

In South Australia, outdoor dining at restaurants and cafes will be allowed from Monday for up to 10 people, and in the Northern Territory, pubs, bars and restaurants will reopen next Friday.

However the states of New South Wales and Victoria, which make up more than half the country's population and nearly two-thirds of the country's Covid-19 cases, plan to outline plans for easing business restrictions only next week.

US watchdog agency says whistleblower should be reinstated

A US government watchdog agency has recommended the temporary reinstatement of a whistleblower who says he was removed as director of a government research office because he raised concerns about virus preparedness, his lawyers said.

The US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) made a "threshold determination" that the Trump administration unlawfully sidelined disease expert Rick Bright because he "made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public," Bright's lawyers said in the statement.

OSC's recommendation is not binding on the administration.

Bright's complaint could eventually be referred to the Merit Systems Protection Board, a tribunal that hears retaliation complaints by federal government employees.

Pfizer to outsource some drug production, focus on coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer Inc said it is in talks to shift more of its medicine production to outside contractors as it prepares for large-scale production of an experimental vaccine to prevent Covid-19, should it prove safe and effective.

The US drugmaker is tapping its network of around 200 outside contractors, which includes Catalent Inc, Lonza Group AG, and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, to play a bigger role in producing some of its existing medicines, Mike McDermott, president of global supply at Pfizer, told Reuters in an interview.

Pfizer did not specify which companies within its network it is in active discussions with about shifting production.

Ghana records over 500 cases at industrial facility

More than 500 workers at an industrial facility in Ghana have tested positive for the virus, the country's health service said, as total cases jumped by nearly 30 percent in a single day.

The health service did not name the facility, where it said in a statement that 533 out 1,300 workers had tested positive. The overall number of cases in Ghana rose to 4,012, including 18 deaths, from 3,091 on Thursday.

That represents the highest case total in West Africa, although Ghana has also conducted by far the most tests in the region.

Brazil hits new record for daily deaths

Brazil registered 10,222 new confirmed cases and 751 deaths, the health ministry said.

Daily deaths beat the previous record of 615 on Wednesday. 

Overall, Brazil has registered 145,328 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 9,897 deaths.

Mexico reports 1,906 new cases, 199 deaths

Mexico's health ministry reported 1,906 new confirmed cases and 199 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 31,522 and 3,160 deaths.

However, the government has said the real number of infections is significantly higher than the confirmed cases and that deaths are also higher than official numbers show.

Kuwait, Sudan extend Covid-19 curfews

Kuwait and Sudan extended curfews as part of efforts to battle the pandemic.

Kuwaiti government spokesman Tariq Al Mazram said the restriction was extended to May 30.

The Gulf nation has 7,208 confirmed virus cases, with 47 deaths and 2,466 recoveries.

Sudan extended its curfew in Khartoum province for 10 days beginning May 9, according to National Health Emergency Committee head Siddiq Tawer.

It declared a curfew in the province from April 18 for three weeks.

Sudan confirmed 1,111 Covid-19 cases with 59 fatalities and 102 recoveries.

Yemen deploys 10,000 soldiers to ensure curfew

In Yemen, 10,000 soldiers were commissioned to ensure the implementation of a night curfew in southern Hadhramaut province, according to a statement by the press office of the Hadhramaut Governorate.

The decision was made to provide security and to suppress a revolt as a result of riots and demonstrations against the curfew in parts of the province.

Virus cases rose to 34 in Yemen with seven deaths and one patient having recovered.

Turkey brings back near 800 nationals

More than 800 Turkish nationals were repatriated Friday from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of an initiative by Ankara amid the pandemic.

A specially arranged Turkish Airlines flight with 195 Turks from the UAE landed in the Black Sea province of Samsun.

Separately, 280 Turks were evacuated from Kuwait and landed in Sivas province.

And a total of 302 were brought back from the Netherlands and sent to a dormitory in Ankara, where they will be put under a 14-day quarantine.

After routine health checks, passengers arriving from the UAE and Kuwait were quarantined at dormitories in Tokat and Sinop provinces.

Turkey has repatriated nearly 70,000 nationals from 107 nations, under instructions by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and in coordination with the foreign ministry.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies