The global coronavirus pandemic has affected over 4.8 million people, with around 319,000 deaths, according to a tracker. Here are more coronavirus-related developments for May 18:

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with restaurant industry executives about the coronavirus response, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, May 18 2020.
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with restaurant industry executives about the coronavirus response, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, May 18 2020. (AP)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Trump taking hydroxychloroquine in case he gets virus

President Donald Trump said that he is taking a malaria drug to lessen symptoms should he get the new coronavirus, even though the drug is unproven for fighting Covid-19.

Trump told reporters he has been taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement daily "for about a week and a half now."

Trump spent weeks pushing the drug as a potential cure for Covid-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration's top medical professionals. 

More than 90,000 US coronavirus deaths

The United States exceeded 90,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus and 1.5 million infections, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The tracker also registered 10,000 additional deaths in one week. 

The US, which has the world's highest number of deaths and infections, had reached 80,000 fatalities on May 11 after reaching 50,000 on April 24.

Qatar to close shops, halt all commercial activities

Qatar will close all shops and halt all commercial activities, from May 19 to May 30, to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, state news agency QNA said, citing a decision by Qatar's Cabinet.

The closure excludes pharmacies, food supply stores and food deliveries.

Italy says virus daily death toll under 100

The daily coronavirus death toll in Italy dropped to 99 for the first time since early March, the civil protection agency said, as the country largely lifted a lockdown.

It was the lowest toll since March 9 – the day Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he was shutting down the country.

Turkey reports 31 more death

Death toll in Turkey rises to 4,171 as 31 more people die over past 24 hours, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Total number of coronavirus cases reached 150,593 with 1,158 new cases reported over the past day.

Number of recovered coronavirus patients in Turkey total 111,577 with 1,615 additional cases over past 24 hours, added health minister.

Turkey will impose a nationwide curfew during the Eid holiday to curb the spread of coronavirus, the country's President Erdogan has announced.

UK death toll rises by 160

The number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for coronavirus rose by 160 to 34,796, the health department said on Twitter.

A total of 246,406 people have tested positive for the virus, up 2,684.

France reports 131 fatalities 

French health authorities reported 131 new coronavirus deaths on Monday, or a slowing increase of 0.5 percent, bringing the total to 28,239, still the fourth-highest in the world behind the US, Britain and Italy. 

In a statement, the ministry said the number of people in intensive care with Covid-19 infection declined by 4.3 percent to 1,998, below the 2,000 threshold for the first time since March 22.

Spain reports lowest death toll in two months 

Spain's overnight death toll from the coronavirus was 59, the lowest figure in two months, the government said.

The cumulative death toll rose to 27,709, while the number of confirmed cases rose to 231,606 on Monday from 231,350 the previous day, according to Health Ministry figures.

Figures include data for more than 24 hours as the ministry changed its methods. It was the second day in a row that deaths were under 100.

Slovakia to reopen shopping malls, schools

Slovakia will reopen shopping malls, theatres and cinemas as of Wednesday, under strict hygienic conditions, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said.

The central European country, which has had far fewer cases of the new coronavirus than most Western European nations, will also reopen kindergartens and the first five grades of elementary schools from June 1, Matovic told a news conference.

Nigeria to impose 'precision lockdown' 

Nigeria will impose "precision lockdown" measures in areas that report rapid increases in cases of the new coronavirus, the chairman of the presidential task force said.

The government also extended a full lockdown in the northern economic hub of Kano state, which has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the country, behind the commercial capital of Lagos, and where authorities are investigating a spate of mysterious deaths. 

Spain aims to reopen borders to tourism in late June

Tourism-dependent Spain aims to reopen borders to visitors around the end of June as its coronavirus lockdown fully unwinds, a minister said.

Madrid last week surprised its European Union partners by imposing a two-week quarantine on all overseas travellers and effectively keeping borders closed, saying that was needed to avoid importing a second wave of the Covid-19 disease.

But the move was meant to be temporary and Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos said it would be phased out in parallel with travel being allowed within Spain, whose regions are easing restrictions in different phases.

One of the worst-hit nations with 27,650 deaths and 231,350 infections, Spain is slowly easing a strict lockdown in place since mid-March which had meant for weeks people could not even go out for exercise.

UN chief calls out countries which ignored WHO advice

The planet is paying a heavy price for countries ignoring the recommendations of the World Health Organization to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, UN chief Antonio Guterres said.

"Different countries have followed different, sometimes contradictory strategies and we are all paying a heavy price," the secretary-general told a virtual meeting of the WHO's World Health Assembly.

Indonesia reports 496 new infections, 43 deaths

Indonesia reported 496 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 18,010, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto

Yurianto also announced 43 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 1,191, while 4,324 people have recovered. 

More than 143,030 people have been tested, he said.

Philippines records seven deaths, 205 more cases

The Philippines' health ministry reported seven new coronavirus deaths and 205 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths from the outbreak had increased to 831, while confirmed cases have risen to 12,718. 

But 94 more patients recovered, bringing total recoveries to 2,729.

Malaysia reports 47 new cases with no new deaths

Malaysian health authorities reported 47 new coronavirus cases, bringing the cumulative total to 6,941 cases.

The health ministry also reported no new deaths, keeping total fatalities at 113.

South Africa reports 1,160 new cases in 24 hours

South Africa registered 1,160 new cases of the novel coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest daily infection since March, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 15,515, according to the Health Ministry.

“Regrettably we report a further three Covid-19 related deaths – this brings the total national deaths to 264,” the ministry said in a statement released Sunday night.

The ministry further said it has so far done 460,873 Covid-19 tests since the pandemic was first recorded in the country in March.

It said it had carried out 21,314 tests in the last 24-hour cycle.

India reports largest single-day surge at 5,242

India has recorded its biggest single-day surge with 5,242 new cases of coronavirus and 157 deaths due to Covid-19 during the past 24 hours, taking the country’s infection tally to more than 96,000, the most in Asia.

Most of the infections reported in India are from its major cities.  

The country now has 3,029 reported fatalities due to Covid-19.

The surge in infections comes a day after the federal government extended a nationwide lockdown to May 31 but eased some restrictions to restore economic activity and gave states more control in deciding the nature of the lockdown.

Authorities are largely attributing the recent surge in infections to the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to India’s villages, which have weaker health infrastructure.

Russia's new cases below 10,000 for third day in a row

Russia reported 8,926 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, pushing its nationwide case tally to 290,678.

The daily rise in cases was for the third day in a row below 10,000, a threshold that it has been above for much of May.

Russia's coronavirus taskforce said 91 people had died overnight, bringing the death toll to 2,722. 

Japan's Mt Fuji to be closed in summer

Japan's beloved Mount Fuji will be closed during this year's summer climbing season to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, officials said.

Shizuoka prefecture, home to the country's tallest mountain, announced they were closing three of the four major routes to the mountain's peak.

Japan's virus outbreak remains small compared with those seen in parts of Europe and the United States, with over 16,000 confirmed infections recorded and 749 deaths.

Japan last week lifted a state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus for the majority of the country but kept it in place for top cities Tokyo and Osaka.

Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican reopens

Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican reopened to visitors after being closed for over two months under Italy's lockdown orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A handful of visitors queued up, observing social distancing rules, and were watched by police officers wearing face masks before having their temperatures taken to enter the church, which has been closed since March 10.

Acropolis in Athens reopens for public

Greece reopened the Acropolis in Athens and all other archaeological sites in the country to the public after a two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou led the ceremony as one of the first to visit the ancient Greek monumental complex that sits on a hill above the capital. 

Only journalists and employees wearing masks were present.

Germany's cases rise by 342 to 174,697

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 342 to 174,697, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The tally showed deaths rose by 21 to 7,935. 

An earlier release by Reuters had given a lower number of cases and deaths.

Thailand reports no new cases, no additional deaths

Thailand reported no new coronavirus cases or deaths as the country begins to reopen businesses and ease restrictions.

"Today there are two zeros ... thank you all Thais who have given their cooperation," a spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, said.

This is the second day since March 9 that the country has reported no new daily cases.

Thailand on Sunday will allow malls and department stores to re-open. It will also shorten a nighttime curfew by one hour, to 2300 to 0400, from 2200 to 0400 local time.

Thailand has reported a total of 3,025 cases of the coronavirus and 56 fatalities.

China reports seven new cases

China reported seven new coronavirus cases and officials said central government petition offices in Beijing, where people come from across the country to register complaints, will remain closed for the time being as a virus-control measure.

No new Covid-19 deaths have been reported in China in more than a month, although some have been announced retroactively after further tests were performed, and 82 people remain in treatment while another 450 are under isolation and monitoring as suspected cases or after testing positive for the virus without showing symptoms.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 82,954 cases since the virus was first detected in the central industrial city of Wuhan.

With the decline in cases, China has moved to restart schools and reopen businesses and industries. 

South Korea reports 15 new cases

South Korea has reported 15 new coronavirus cases and one more death, bringing its totals to 11,065 cases and 263 fatalities.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said it believed 10 of the new cases were linked to passengers arriving from abroad.

Only two new cases were reported from the Seoul metropolitan area, where tens of thousands were tested in recent weeks after health officials discovered dozens of infections linked to club goers.

Officials have expressed hope that the transmissions are waning and plan to move ahead with a phased reopening of schools, starting with high school seniors on Wednesday.

Honduras extends blanket curfew again 

Honduras extended its blanket curfew for a week, a key measure in its efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The curfew, first imposed in mid-March, has been extended eight times as the government attempts to avoid overwhelming the health system, which struggles to meet the needs of the country's 9.2 million people even in normal times.

The curfew will now be in effect until May 24, a spokesman for the security ministry, Jair Meza, told a national radio and television network.

Honduras has registered 2,646 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 142 deaths so far.

US unemployment could peak at 20 to 25 percent

The business shutdowns caused by cornavirus pandemic could "easily" cause the US economy to collapse by 20 to 30 percent this quarter, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Sunday.

Although unemployment could peak at 20 to 25 percent, a level not seen since the 1930s, Powell said the country will avoid another depression.

"I think there's a good chance that there'll be positive growth in the third quarter," Powell told the CBS programme "60 Minutes.

Powell noted that the economy was fundamentally healthy before the virus struck suddenly and forced widespread business shutdowns and tens of millions of layoffs.

Once the outbreak has been contained, he said, the economy should be able to rebound "substantially."

Japan's economy slips into recession

Japan dived into its first recession since 2015, according to official data Monday, with the world's third-largest economy contracting by 0.9 percent in the first quarter as it wrestles with the fallout from the coronavirus.

The drop in gross domestic product followed a 1.9-percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2019, as a tax hike and typhoons hit Japan hard –– even before the pandemic shut down much of the economy.

Mexico's death toll from coronavirus rises to 5,177 

Mexico registered 49,219 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with the country's death toll rising to 5,177, 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’s Bolsonaro defies lockdown orders, greets supporters

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro greeted hundreds of supporters — and joined some in a series of push-ups — who gathered before the presidential offices on Sunday to back his open-the-economy drive even as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the country.

Demonstrators in Brasilia and Sao Paulo defied local stay-at-home orders to join the pro-Bolsonaro rallies at a time when the president is facing increasing pressure over his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 15,000 Brazilians.

"We hope to be free of this question soon, for the good of all of us," Bolsonaro told the crowd in Brasilia. "Brazil will come back stronger."

Chile finance, presidency ministers in quarantine

Two of Chile's top cabinet ministers said they would quarantine after coming in close contact with Chilean lawmakers who tested positive for the coronavirus during negotiations in Congress.

Ignacio Briones, Chile's finance minister, and Felipe Ward, secretary-general of the presidency, both said on Twitter they had tested negative for the coronavirus but would remain in quarantine until a second test confirmed they had not been infected.

At least 23 lawmakers will also begin a quarantine period after meeting with the infected legislators in Congress, the local daily El Mercurio reported.

NY state chief Cuomo gets tested on live TV

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo got tested for coronavirus on live TV on Sunday as he announced all people in the state experiencing flu-like symptoms are now eligible for tests.

Any New Yorkers experiencing flu-like symptoms or those who will be returning to work as part of phased reopenings across the state can now get tested, Cuomo said.

The state is expanding eligibility as it deals with a surplus of testing capacity. Cuomo said drive-thru and walk-in testing sites are performing about one-third of the 15,000 tests they’re capable of each day.

Trump calls into charity golf tournament broadcast

President Donald Trump called into a charity golf tournament broadcast Sunday and promised Americans a speedy return to normalcy that sounded far more optimistic than most experts say is realistic.

Trump hailed the event — broadcast on NBC — and said he’d like to see crowds packing into sports venues by this fall, whether or not a cure for the coronavirus is developed.

He said, “We’re looking at vaccines, we’re looking at cures and we are very, very far down the line,” adding: “I think that’s not going to be in the very distant future. But even before that, I think we’ll be back to normal.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies