SPAIN REPORTS FURTHER DROP IN DAILY COVID-19 DEATH TOLL !
Spain registered a fall in its daily death toll from the coronavirus for a third consecutive day with 510 people dying, the government said.
It was the smallest daily increase since 23 March in the country, which is suffering one off the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.
The update for the last 24 hours raised the country's overall number of fatalities to 16,353 and the number of confirmed cases another 4,800 to 161,852.
Masks will be handed out at metro and train stations from Monday as some companies re-open after a two-week "hibernation" period, the health minister said yesterday.
Although health chiefs say the pandemic has peaked, they have urged the population to strictly follow the national lockdown which was put in place on 14 March in order to slow the spread of the virus.
The restrictions will remain in place until 25 April although the government has made clear it expects to announce another two-week extension.
Spain toughened its nationwide lockdown on 30 March 2020, halting all non-essential activities until after Easter as it sought to further curb the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the United States has become the first country to record more than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths in one day, with 2,108 fatalities in the past 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
The US has now recorded 18,586 deaths and is closing in on the toll of 18,849 dead in Italy, which has seen the most fatalities so far in the global pandemic.
The global death toll from the virus topped 100,000 yesterday as Easter weekend celebrations around the world kicked off in near-empty churches with billions of people suck indoors to halt the pandemic.
Extraordinary measures have seen businesses and schools closed in a desperate bid to halt the virus's spread, and the IMF has warned that the world now faces the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
More than 102,000 people have died of COVID-19 with 1.7 million infections detected globally, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, with nearly 70% of the fatalities in Europe.
With more than half a million reported infections, the US already has more coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the world.
US President Donald Trump, however, said that with the US infection trajectory "near the peak" and social distancing working well, he was considering ways to re-open he world's biggest economy as soon as possible.
He acknowledged the risk of higher death tolls if businesses restart too soon.
"But you know what? Staying at home leads to death also," Mr Trump added, pointing to the massive economic suffering for millions of Americans.
It is unclear when that will be possible, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying millions in the state, the hardest hit in the country, will have to be tested before it can reopen.
The World Health Organization has warned that prematurely lifting lockdown restrictions, which are affecting more than half the planet's population, could spark a dangerous resurgence of the disease.
Easter celebrations that would normally see churches packed with parishioners were replaced by an eeie emptiness yesterday.
Even hallowed traditions have been revamped, with Pope Francis livestreaming his Eater message from the seclusion of his private library.
"We have to respond to our confinement with all our creativity," the pontiff said. "We can either get depressed and alienated... or we can get creative."
Worshippers in Germany embraced social distancing orders to celebrate Good Friday at a drive-in service in Dussledorf.
"It was a sad feeling at first," Catholic priest Frank Heidkamp told AFP, as hundreds gathered in a parking lot.
In Muslim-majority Pakistan, the Christian underclass is facing un-employment because of the pandemic this Easter, and many are wondering how they will survive.
"My kids asked me for new Easter dresses and shoes but I have told them we are not going to have Easter this year, " said Aamir Gill, a cleaner who was fired without severance days after the virus crisis took hold in Pakistan.
More than four billion people are confined to their homes as governments worldwide have imposed never-before-seen measures to halt the virus, which first emerged late last year in central China.
Like Mr Trump, governments in Europe are under pressure to strike a balance between keeping people safe and keeping already battered economies stable.
"Lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday.
Some countries, especially in Asia, are worried about a possible second wave of infections imported from travellers as life creeps back to normal.
And while Mr Trump has discussed a rapid return to economic stability, the US government's top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci said that despite signs of progress, " this is not the time...to be pulling back at all" on social distancing efforts.
Glimmers of hope may be emerging in some countries.
The daily rises in new infections in hardest-hit Italy have slowed dramatically. Still, the Italian government said it would extend lockdown order until 3 May 2020.
In Britain, where the government has restricted calls to ease lockdown measures, spirits were lifted yesterday when virus-stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed signs of recovery after three days in intensive care.
"The prime minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest," a Downing Street spokesman said.
The pandemic has shaken the global economy, and the International Monetary Fund, which has $1 trillion in lending capacity, said it was responding to calls from 90 countries for emergency financing.
G20 energy ministers, meanwhile, pledged to work together to ensure oil market stability after major oil producers agreed to cut output.
A dramatic slump in oil demand, worsened by a Saudi-Russia price war, has sent prices crashing to near two-decade lows in recent weeks.
In much of the developing world, there are fears the worst is still to come.
War-torn Yemen, already suffering one of the world's most acute humanitarian crises, reported its first case.
In Brazil, authorities confirmed the first deaths in Rio de Janeiro's slums, where overcrowding and poor sanitation have raised fears of catastrophe.
@ Jackie San