Global death toll from Covid-19 crosses 190,000 as confirmed cases worldwide exceed 2.7 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Here are the updates for April 24:

Worker of funeral home company
Worker of funeral home company "Palmero" hold the coffin of a victim of Covid-19 during a funeral service on April 24, 2020 at the cemetery of Envie, near Cuneo, northwestern Italy. (AFP)

Friday, April 24

Belgium to gradually reopen businesses, schools from mid-May

Businesses and schools in Belgium will gradually reopen from the middle of May, easing a lockdown imposed in mid-March, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced.

Businesses will restart from May 11 and schools from May 18, Wilmes said, adding the spread of the virus had slowed but pointing out the situation was still evolving. "Nothing is etched in stone," the premier added.

France's coronavirus death toll rises by 389 to 22,245

The death toll in France from the coronavirus rose by 389 to 22,245 on Friday, the country's top health official Jerome Salomon said.

The number of coronavirus cases in hospital fell to 28,658 from 29,219, he added.

Turkey's death toll from coronavirus rises to 2,600

Turkey on Friday confirmed 109 additional fatalities related to the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 2,600.

The total number of registered coronavirus cases surged to 104,912, as 3,122 more people tested positive for the virus, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca shared on Twitter .

So far, a total of 21,737 patients have been discharged from medical care after recovering from the virus, with 3,246 discharged on Friday alone, health ministry data showed.

A total of 38,351 tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, with the total reaching 830,257, according to the data.

Koca also noted that the number of patients discharged in the past 24 hours accounted for roughly 15 percent of total so far.

Italy records 420 new deaths

Deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 420 on Friday, the smallest daily tally since March 19, the Civil Protection Agency said, but the number of new infections rose to 3,021 from 2,646 on Thursday.

Friday's death toll was down from 464 the day before.

The total of fatalities since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 25,969, the agency said, the second highest in the world after that of the United States.

The number of confirmed cases was 192,994, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 106,527 from 106,848 on Thursday, a fifth consecutive daily decline.

There were 2,173 people in intensive care on Friday against 2,267 on Thursday, maintaining a long-running decline. Of those originally infected, 60,498 were declared recovered against 57,576 a day earlier.

The agency said 1.148 million people had been tested for the virus against 1.053 million the day before, out of a population of around 60 million.

UK death toll in hospital rises to 19,506

The death toll from the new coronavirus in hospitals across the United Kingdom has risen to 19,506, an increase of 684 in 24 hours, the latest data from the Health Ministry showed on Friday.

The country now has 143,464 confirmed cases of the virus, up 5,386 in a day.

The death figures are as of 5 pm (1600 GMT) on Thursday, while the test data is as of 9 am (0800 GMT) on Friday.

Nearly 33,000 people freed from quarantine centres

Nearly 33,000 people in Turkey have been released after spending a two-week quarantine in student dormitories, said the country's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) on Friday.

In a statement, AFAD said due to the coronavirus outbreak, 56,293 people were quarantined, most of them brought home from abroad, in all but four of Turkey’s 81 provinces.

It said 32,763 of them have completed their 14-day quarantine period and were released after their test results for Covid-19 came back negative.

"1,977 employees of AFAD helped people who stayed in 144 dormitories of the country's Higher Education Credit and Hostels Institution during the quarantine and evacuation procedures," it added.

Leaders back WHO's plan to speed Covid-19 drugs

Global leaders voiced their support on Friday for a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to speed the development of drugs and vaccines to tackle Covid-19.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said pandemic caused by the new coronavirus was the "biggest global threat the world has faced in a generation," while Spain voiced strong support for the WHO's "central role" in handling it.

Vietnam says five million workers affected

Vietnam said on Friday the coronavirus outbreak has negatively affected 5 million workers and 84.8 percent of companies in the country.

The Southeast Asian country on Friday reported two new coronavirus cases, one day after it lifted tough movement restrictions, bringing the total to 270 with no deaths.

"The difficult situation is forecast to continue due to the impacts of the disease on production, and on labourers," the government's General Statistics Office said in a statement.

Dutch cases rise by 806 to 36,535

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 806 to 36,535, health authorities said on Friday, with 112 new deaths.

The country's overall death toll is now 4,289, the Netherlands' Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in its daily update. The RIVM emphasised it reports only confirmed cases, and actual numbers are higher. 

Spain sees 367 new deaths, lowest daily toll in a month

Spain saw 367 people die of novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily number of deaths in four weeks, government said.

The latest figures are the lowest daily toll since March 22 when 394 deaths were reported.

This brings the total fatalities from the pandemic in the country to 22,524, the third-highest number of virus deaths in the world after the US and Italy.

Switzerland death toll rises to 1,309

The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 1,309, the country's public health agency said, rising from 1,268 people on Thursday.

The number of positive tests also increased to 28,677 from 28,496 on Thursday, it said. 

Switzerland is due to start the first phase of its relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions on April 27 with the reopening of hairdressers, florists and garden centres. 

Poland extends school lockdown until May 24

Poland's government is to extend the closure of schools, and pre-schools by a month, until May 24, Education Minister Dariusz Piatkowski said.

Piatkowski also told a news conference that he was considering whether it would be possible to allow some educational establishments to offer daycare for children, but gave no further details.

Previously the education system lockdown had been planned to last until April 26.

Iran death toll rises by 93 to 5,574

Iran's death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 93, to reach a total of 5,574, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV.

The total number of people diagnosed with the disease is 88,194, of whom 3,121 are in critical condition, he added.

Few hundred daily cases can help ease lockdown – Germany

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany needs to fall to a few hundred a day to enable further easing of lockdown measures, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.

Germany recorded 2,337 new cases to bring the total number of confirmed infections to 150,383. The reported death toll rose by 227 to 5,321.

Rise in Russia's new daily cases 

Russia reported 5,849 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide tally to 68,622.

Sixty people with the virus died overnight, pushing the death toll to 615, Russia's official crisis response centre said. 

Singapore records 897 new infections

Singapore registered 897 new cases, taking its total to 12,075.

The health ministry said the vast majority of the new cases were migrant workers residing in dormitories, many of which are under government-ordered quarantine due to mass outbreaks.

The island of 5.7 million people now has one of the highest infection rates in Asia, according to official figures, behind only China, India and Japan.

Thailand reports 15 new cases, no new deaths

Thailand reported 15 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing the total number of cases since its outbreak in January to 2,854 cases and 50 deaths.

Of the new cases, nine were linked to previous cases and two had no known links.

Four other new cases were reported from the southern province of Yala, where the authorities are aggressively testing the population because of high infection rates there, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Since the outbreak, 2,490 patients have recovered and gone home.

Tally rises to 91 on Italian cruise ship in Japan

As many as 91 crew of an Italian cruise ship docked in Japan's southwestern port of Nagasaki are infected with coronavirus, officials said, as questions persist over how and when they will return to their home countries.

Authorities are racing to complete tests on about 290 of the 623 crew after one of them was found infected this week. The high rate of infections has fanned concern about the potential strain on medical services if patients' conditions worsen.

Duterte extends lockdown in Manila to mid-May

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended a strict lockdown in the capital Manila until May 15 to try to contain coronavirus infections, but will ease restrictions in lower-risk regions of the country, his spokesman said.

The enhanced community quarantine, as the measures are called, would be expanded to include other parts of the Philippines with large numbers of infections, but restrictions elsewhere would be modified, with incremental resumption of work and commercial activity.

US cross 50,000 fatalities – Johns Hopkins

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 50,000 people in the US, according to Worldometer tracker.

Earlier, John Hopkins University data showed the US suffered one the deadliest days of the pandemic with 3,176 deaths.

The deaths were recorded by JHU in the 24 hours up to 0030GMT on Friday, bringing the overall coronavirus death toll in the US to 49,759, according to the Baltimore-based university.

The US, the worst-hit country in the world, now has 886,709 confirmed cases of coronavirus, up 26,971 from the previous day.

Due to a lack of testing, the actual number of infections is likely to be much higher.

China reports six new cases in mainland 

Mainland China reported six new cases as of end-April 23, down from 10 reported a day earlier, putting the total number of Covid-19 infections at 82,804.

China's National Health Commission said in a statement that two of the new cases were so-called imported ones involving travellers from overseas.

There were six such imported cases reported a day earlier.

The number of new asymptomatic patients, those infected with the virus but not exhibiting symptoms, rose to 34 from 27 reported a day earlier. 

The death toll for mainland China remained unchanged at 4,632.

Panama reports 174 new coronavirus cases 

Panama posted 174 new cases of the virus, bringing the country's total to 5,166 infected persons, the health ministry said.

Panama's death toll from the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus rises to 146.

Ecuador's coronavirus case total twice as high as confirmed

Ecuador's health minister said the country's virus case total was twice as high as previously confirmed, as authorities added 11,000 new infections that resulted from delayed testing.

With 560 confirmed deaths, the outbreak has ravaged the economy of the oil-producing country and overwhelmed sanitary authorities in the largest city of Guayaquil, where corpses remained in homes or for hours on the streets.

Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said the government would add the new cases to the confirmed total of 11,1 83 infections. Almost 24,000 test results were pending, according to the health ministry's figures, and on average they take a week to process.

Algeria eases lockdown for Ramadan

Algeria will ease confinement measures from the first day of the holy month of Ramadan by shortening a night curfew and lifting a full lockdown for a province near the capital Algiers, the prime minister's office said.

Algeria has so far reported 3,007 cases of Covid-19, with 407 deaths and 1,355 recoveries.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies