The global coronavirus pandemic has affected more than 4.7 million people, with over 313,000 deaths, according to a tracker. Here are more coronavirus-related developments for May 17:

A woman wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, walks past a closed pharmacy following undisclosed positive Covid-19 case in Alberton, east of Johannesburg, South Africa. May 15, 2020.
A woman wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, walks past a closed pharmacy following undisclosed positive Covid-19 case in Alberton, east of Johannesburg, South Africa. May 15, 2020. (AP)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

S.Africa reports 24-hour record of 1,160 new virus cases

South Africa reported 1,160 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily number since the first case was recorded in March, data released by the health ministry showed.

"As of today, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa is 15,515 with 1,160 new cases identified in the last 24-hour cycle of testing," said the ministry statement.

The Western Cape province, popular with tourists, accounted for nearly 60 percent of the national numbers.

The numbers of deaths rose by three to 263 from Saturday.

Africa's most industrialised economy has the highest numbers of infections in Africa, followed by Egypt which has so far recorded 11,719 Covid-19 cases, including 612 deaths.

CDC 'let the country down' on testing – White House

The White House rebuked the top US health agency on Sunday, saying "it let the country down" on providing testing crucial to the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been under intense scrutiny since producing a faulty test for Covid-19 that caused weeks of delays in the US response.

Critics have pointed out that it could simply have accepted kits made by the World Health Organization, which has been producing them since late January, instead of insisting on developing its own test.

"Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing," White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back."

Benin votes in controversial poll despite virus

Benin staged local elections minus key opposition parties on Sunday with authorities pushing ahead despite the coronavirus threat and calls for a delay.

The West African nation of 11 million this week lifted a raft of restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the virus. Covid-19 has caused 339 confirmed infections and two deaths in the country.

Turnout nonetheless appeared to have suffered, observers noted after the polls had closed, and AFP saw that in opposition strongholds it did not exceed 10 percent.

Opposition leader Joseph Tamegnon charged in the declaration that President "Patrice Talon believes he has the Republic under his thumb."

Campaigning was limited to posters and media appearances as candidates were forced to call off rallies due to a ban on gatherings of over 50 people.

France death toll surpasses 28,000

Death toll from coronavirus rises to 28,108 as 483 more people die over the past 24 hours.

The health ministry said the number of people in hospitals fell to 19,361 from 19,432 on Saturday and the number of people in intensive care units dropped to 2,087 from 2,132 on Saturday.

UK coronavirus death toll rises by 170

The number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for Covid-19 rose by 170 to 34,636, business minister Alok Sharma said, the lowest increase in the official death toll since March 24.

The increase was sharply down from the 468 rises in deaths reported 24 hours earlier and the lowest since Britain brought in a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus on March 23.

Turkey's total recoveries from pandemic near 110,000

Turkey's total number of recoveries from Covid-19 pandemic hit 109,962 as 1,825 more patients recovered, while the active cases dropped to 35,333, said the country's health minister.

The death toll from the pandemic rose to 4,140 as the country reported 44 new fatalities over the past 24 hours, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing the ministry data.

“The recent number of cases dropped at an expected level. Some data showed ordinary variations in the overall course,” he said, stressing the importance of staying at home in fighting the virus.

The country also registered 1,368 new cases, bringing the tally to 149,435.

Italy reports 145 new deaths

Italy reported 145 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 31,908, as citizens and businesses brace for a relaxation of the prolonged lockdown starting next week.

Data released by the country's Civil Protection Department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind, as stressed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a press conference in which he announced the softer lockdown rules.

The tally of active infections fell by 1,836, placing the total at 68,351.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, reaching 125,176, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy's overwhelmed healthcare system.

Canada reports over 100 deaths

Canada's Covid-19 deaths rise by 107 to 5,702 as cases increase by 1,211 to 76,204 in the past 24 hours, the country's public health agency

Lebanon to resume economic activities

Lebanon will gradually reopen its economy beginning on Monday, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said, following a four-day shutdown imposed after a rise in coronavirus cases threatened a second wave of the outbreak.

Already in the throes of a deep economic crisis, Lebanon began easing virus-related restrictions on business late last month to try to restore some economic activity. But that plan was paused last week after a rise in new cases.

Lebanon has been relatively successful reining in the outbreak since a mid-March lockdown that set an overnight curfew and shut most business and air travel.

Some 1.7M people recover

The global coronavirus recoveries surpassed the 1.7 million mark, according to a running tally by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The university's data showed a total of 1,700,354 people won the battle against Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The number of cases crossed 4.65 million, while 312,119 deaths were recorded.

The US has the highest number of recoveries with 268,376, followed by Germany with 152,600 and Spain with 146,446.

But the US continues to be the worst-hit country, with the highest numbers of infections and deaths – over 1.46 million cases and over 88,754 fatalities.

India extends lockdown till May 31

India extended its nationwide coronavirus lockdown for two weeks, but said it would be modified to factor in the "need to open up economic activities".

"Lockdown measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 will continue for a period of up to (May 31)," the Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

India has now reported more cases than China, where the virus first emerged late last year, although its number of deaths so far, at 2,872, is much lower than China's 4,600.

Vietnam reports two new cases

Vietnam reported two new coronavirus cases, both imported, taking the country's tally to 320 with no deaths, the health ministry said.

Both of the cases are Vietnamese citizens repatriated from Russia and were isolated on arrival, the health ministry said in a statement. Over 80 percent of Vietnam's confirmed cases have recovered and 9,000 people have been under quarantine. 

Madagascar records first death 

Madagascar has registered its first coronavirus death, of a 57-year-old medical worker who suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure, the national Covid-19 taskforce said.

A case is a 57-year-old man, a parking lot security officer at a hospital in the city of Toamasina, according to local daily L'Express de Madagascar.

The Indian Ocean island also reported 21 new cases, bringing the total number of cases to 304, according to Express. 

China's Wuhan nearly doubles the number of tests

The city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus outbreak originated in China, conducted 222,675 nucleic acid tests on May 16, the local health authority said, nearly doubling from a day earlier.

Wuhan kicked off a campaign on May 14 to look for asymptomatic carriers – people who are infected but show no outward sign of illness – after confirming last weekend its first cluster of Covid-19 infections since its release from a virtual lockdown on April 8.

The number of tests carried out on May 16 in the city of 11 million residents was more than the 186,400 tests conducted on May 14-15, and was also the highest since the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission started publishing the data on Feb.

Egypt tightens restrictions

Egypt will bring forward the start of its curfew by four hours to 5 pm and halt public transport from May 24 for six days during the Eid holiday, as it seeks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the prime minister said.

Shops, restaurants, parks and beaches will be closed for the extended holiday at the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, and restrictions on citizens' movements will remain in place for at least two weeks afterwards, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said.

Egypt has reported 11,719 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 612 deaths.

Spain's daily death toll below 100 for the first time in 2 months

Spain's daily death toll from the coronavirus was 87, the health ministry said, dropping below 100 for the first time in two months.

Total deaths from the virus climbed to 27,650, while the number of confirmed cases edged up to 231,350 from 230,698, the ministry said.

Russia reports 9,709 new infections

Russia reported 9,709 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, a rise from 9,200 new cases reported the previous day.

Russia's coronavirus taskforce said the overall number of cases nationwide stood at 281,752 second only to the US. 

It added that 94 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll from the virus to 2,631.

Malaysia reports 22 new cases, no new deaths

Malaysia's health ministry reported 22 new coronavirus cases, bringing the cumulative total to 6,894.

The country reported no new deaths, with total fatalities remaining at 113. 

The Philippines records 208 new cases, seven more deaths

The Philippines' Department of Health reported 208 new cases of coronavirus infections and seven more fatalities.

The Southeast Asian country's total confirmed cases have risen to 12,513, most of which are in the capital Manila, while its death toll has climbed to 824. The number of recoveries has reached 2,635, the health department said in a bulletin.

Churches in Greece open doors after two months

Churches throughout Greece have opened their doors to the faithful after two months. They limited the number of congregants and dispensed disinfectant outside, but communion was given using the same spoon.

Some church es performed Mass two or three times to accommodate the number of people who showed up.

Greece is gradually easing strict quarantine measures which were imposed in March and have helped limit fatalities from Covid-19 to 162. There have been fewer than 3,000 confirmed cases.

Qatar imposes mandatory masks on pain of prison

Qatar began enforcing the world's toughest penalties of up to three years' imprisonment for failing to wear masks in public, as it battles one of the world's highest coronavirus infection rates.

More than 30,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the tiny Gulf country – 1.1 percent of the 2.75 million population – although just 15 people have died.

Only the micro-states of San Marino and the Vatican had higher per capita infection rates, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Violators of Qatar's new rules will face up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000. 

Latin America and Caribbean record 500,000 cases

Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded more than half a million coronavirus infections, according to an AFP tally based on official reports.

Almost half have been recorded in Brazil – the country worst-hit by the pandemic in the region – which also has more than 15,000 deaths.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of Covid-19 infections.

Many countries are testing only the most serious cases.

Germany's cases rise by 583 to 174,355

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 583 to 174,355, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 33 to 7,914, the tally showed. 

Thailand reports three new cases, no additional deaths

Thailand reported three additional cases of the new coronavirus, bringing its total cases to 3,028 as the country relaxes local restrictions and re-opens malls and department stores.

The three new cases, detected in state quarantine, were students returning from overseas, one from Pakistan and two from Egypt, a spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, said.

Thailand has reported a total of 56 deaths and 116 patients were still being treated. 2,856 patients have recovered.

South Korea reports 13 new cases

South Korea has reported 13 new cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period, raising hopes that a new outbreak linked to nightclubs in Seoul may be waning.

The additional figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national tally to 11,050 with 262 deaths.

The agency says 9,888 of them have recovered and that 17,660 were under tests to determine whether they’ve contracted the virus.

After weeks of a slowdown of new cases, South Korea’s daily jump had earlier marked an average of about 30 for several days, mostly associated with nightclubs in Seoul’s Itaewon entertainment district.

Venezuela sees its largest 1-day virus increase

Venezuela is reporting its biggest one-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic hit the South American nation.

Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Saturday that the 45 new cases bring Venezuela’s total to 504 illnesses, with 10 resulting in death. Officials have reported a relatively low number of cases since the first was discovered in mid-March.

China reopens more schools, revives flights

China on Sunday reported five new cases of the coronavirus, as the commercial hub of Shanghai announced the restart of some classes and airlines revive flights.

Of the new cases, two were imported and three came from the northeastern province of Jilin that has seen a small spike in infections of unknown origin.

In Shanghai, students retain the option of continuing to follow classes online rather than facing virus testing and social distancing measures at schools. As in Beijing and other cities, Shanghai has already restarted classes for middle and high school students preparing for exams.

The number of confirmed cases in the mainland stands at 82,947 and the death toll at 4,634.

Mexico registers 47,144 cases of coronavirus and 5,045 deaths

Mexico registered 47,144 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with the country's death toll rising to 5,045, health authorities said.

Mexico has seen a slightly higher death rate from coronavirus than the global average so far due to the widespread presence of pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity, experts say. 

Brazil registers 14,919 new cases, 816 deaths

Brazil confirmed 14,919 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, as well as 816 related deaths, according to data from the Health Ministry.

Brazil has now registered 233,142 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, the fourth highest in the world, and 15,633 deaths.

8 more sailors aboard US ship test positive a second time

Eight more sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive again for the coronavirus, raising to 13 the number who appear to have become infected a second time while serving aboard the sidelined aircraft carrier.

All the sailors had previously tested positive for the virus and had gone through at least two weeks of isolation. Before they were allowed to go back to the ship, all had to test negative twice in a row, with the tests separated by at least a day or two.

On Saturday, a Navy official confirmed eight additional sailors had tested positive again.

UK to study whether dogs can detect Covid-19

The British government announced Saturday it will spend $605,000 (£500,000) to study if dogs have the ability to detect the coronavirus.

The aim is to find a quick, non-invasive method of detecting the virus.

The research will be conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Durham University and British charity Medical Detection Dogs.

Chile capital silenced amid lockdown over Covid-19 surge

With near-deserted streets and police checks, the seven million people of Chile's capital, Santiago, began a strict quarantine Saturday after a sharp resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Normal activity in the capital was down 85 percent, the government said, as people were only allowed to leave their homes for essential food and medicine and a short period of exercise.

"Blocks and blocks of the city are completely empty and we can take it that this is a good start," Health Minister Jaime Manalich told reporters at Santiago airport after a fly-over of the city.

US CDC reports 1,435,098 cases, 87,315 deaths

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Saturday reported a total of 1,435,098 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 22,977 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,325 to 87,315.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19, caused by the new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on May 15, compared with its count a day earlier. 

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

Obama criticises virus response in an online graduation speech

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday criticised US leaders overseeing the nation's response to the coronavirus, telling college graduates in an online commencement address that the pandemic shows many officials "aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Obama spoke on “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour event for students graduating from historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. His remarks were unexpectedly political, given the venue, and touched on current events beyond the virus and its social and economic impacts.

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said. “A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Nepal registers its first death from Covid-19

Nepal's Health Ministry on Saturday registered its first death from Covid-19 pandemic.

A 29-year-old woman died from the novel coronavirus, the ministry said.

She gave birth on May 8 and applied to the hospital she had recently been discharged, and later tested positive for the virus, it added.

The hospital where the woman gave birth was then put under lockdown, and the village she lived in was quarantined, as part of measures to stem the spread of the disease in the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Nepal reached 281, while 36 patients have recovered in the country so far.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies