British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved Thursday evening from intensive care but remains at a central London hospital, where he will continue receiving treatment for coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise rapidly in the United States, with New York alone having recorded 7,067 fatalities as of Thursday. But even as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, cited the state’s grim needs, he said hospitalizations and intensive care admissions had fallen, suggesting that the curve was beginning to flatten.
Here are some other significant developments:
– Another 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the economy continued to spiral downward.
– Competing proposals for coronavirus relief failed in the Senate, as Democrats objected to a proposed $250 billion increase in a small-business program and Republicans shot down the counter-offer.
– Italy announced 4,204 new cases of the novel coronavirus, along with 610 deaths. Both numbers were below peak but increases from earlier this week, suggesting a slow decline of the outbreak in the hard-hit nation.
– Life is slowly returning to the streets and shops of Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected, after 76 days of nearly complete lockdown.
– Half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the anti-poverty group Oxfam warned in a report.
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Authorities in Myanmar are dropping charges against some Rohingya Muslims detained while fleeing a military crackdown in Rakhine state amid deepening fears over the coronavirus festering in the country’s crowded prisons.
On Wednesday, a court dropped charges against 128 people, with more releases expected in coming days, according to AFP.
“Charges against both adults and children are withdrawn and they are to be released,” Judge Khin Myat Myat Htun told Pathein court in the Ayeyarwady region, AFP reported.
Since 2017, an estimated 750,000 Rohingya have fled by boat, bus or land to Bangladesh to escape the latest crackdown on Myanmar’s Muslim community centered in Rakhine State. In Bangladesh they live in overcrowded and squalid refugee camps – which aid organizations have warned are also ripe for a coronavirus outbreak.
Rohingya remaining in Rakhine face continued persecution and restrictions, such as little access to health care and education. Those who try to leave can be arrested and receive a jail sentence of up to two years.
Around the world, state and local governments from Iran to the United States have been releasing some prisoners to reduce the density in jails, as reports of coronavirus in jails rise. In some places inmates with preexisting conditions or jailed for nonviolent crimes close to completing their sentence are prioritized for early release. In other countries, like Colombia and Italy, inmates have rioted over fears of unsafe conditions.
Human rights groups, moreover, have criticized countries like Iran, Egypt and Turkey for not releasing political detainees, who advocates say are unjustly detained and did not receive due process.
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France announced Thursday that the number of novel coronavirus patients in the country’s intensive care units had dropped from 7,148 on Wednesday to 7,066.
The death toll in France from covid-19 continued its rise, with 1,341 new deaths announced, including both deaths recorded in hospitals in the past 24 hours and those from nursing homes over a broader time period.
The death toll stands at 12,210. The number of confirmed cases rose to 86,334, according to the latest figures.
Over recent days, France has begun systematically logging deaths in nursing homes, pushing its death toll up significantly as it recorded deaths from earlier dates in a bid to ascertain the full impact of the outbreak.
The decline in ICU cases was a positive step, Director of Health Jérôme Salomon said in the daily briefing, noting it was the first time the number had decreased since March 18.
Though neighbors, Germany and Italy, are discussing lifting coronavirus-related restrictions, the French government has said that it is still too early to lift them, and that these restrictions would likely be extended past April 15.