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News24.com | Covid-19 wrap | Spaniards venture outside, US prison population suffers under coronavirus, and lockdown fight in Las Vegas

Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

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Spaniards flock outdoors as European countries ease lockdowns

Spaniards took to the streets to jog, cycle and roller-skate for the first time following 48 days of confinement on Saturday as some European nations cautiously eased coronavirus lockdowns while Russia reported a sudden surge of infections.

As governments weigh how to lift restrictions to restart economies against the risk of new outbreaks, US authorities brought some hope by approving an experimental drug for emergency use on coronavirus patients.

The decision was the latest step in a global push to find treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus, which has left half of humanity under some form of lockdown and pushed the world economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The virus has now killed more than 241 000 people worldwide, according to an AFP tally of official figures, and infected 3.4 million since it first emerged in China late last year.

– AFP

Military jets fly over US cities to salute frontline workers

Military jets flew over US cities on Saturday to salute frontline workers in the country with the highest coronavirus caseload and death toll in the world.

Residents of the nation‘s capital Washington, as well as Baltimore and Atlanta were treated to sights of the Navy‘s Blue Angels and the Air Force‘s Thunderbirds arcing across the sky.

Crowds turned out on the National Mall to see the jets fly in formation past sites such as the US Capitol and the Washington Monument.

Most of those in attendance appeared to be following social distancing rules, and many wore face masks.

– AFP

Coronavirus sweeping through massive US prison population

A massive wave of coronavirus infections is blasting through the world‘s largest prison population in the United States even as officials begin opening up their economies, saying the disease has plateaued.

One prison in Marion, Ohio has become the most intensely infected institution across the country, with more than 80% of its nearly 2 500 inmates, and 175 staff on top of that, testing positive for Covid-19.

Coronavirus deaths are on the increase in jails and penitentiaries across the country, with officials having few options – they are unable to force adequate distancing in crowded cells and facing shortages of medical personnel and personal protective gear everywhere.

The threat to the 2.3 million-strong US prison population was seen last week in the death of Andrea Circle Bear, a 30-year-old native American woman from South Dakota.

Pregnant when she was placed in a Texas federal prison in March on drug charges, she soon became sick with the disease and was placed on a ventilator, and gave birth by C-section.

She remained on the ventilator and died weeks later.

– AFP

Las Vegas torn by virus as casinos clamour to reopen

A smattering of cars drove past the eerily quiet hotels and casinos, shuttered since mid-March, while a handful of tourists gathered by the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign to take photos.

But beneath the quiet of the world-famous Strip, Sin City is in turmoil.

A tug of war has emerged between the need for safety during the coronavirus pandemic and the survival of the gambling capital‘s tourism industry, which some casino operators fear will never be the same.

Nevada‘s Culinary Union Local 226, which represents some 60 000 casino and hotel workers, has had 98% of its members laid off, according to secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline.

At least 12 union members have died from the Covid-19 outbreak, out of Nevada‘s total death toll of 243.

Arguello-Kline said the union fully supports Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak‘s decision to extend the lockdown until at least 15 May.

“He is doing what he can to protect us,” she said. “I know it is tough for people, but if you lose your life, you have lost what is most important.”

But the length of time of the shutdown – and whether it was even necessary – has triggered heated debate in Las Vegas.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman has called the shutdown “insanity”, and has pleaded for the city to be reopened.

Last month, Goodman faced some national backlash after a controversial television interview with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

In a statement released last week, Goodman – who still enjoys support among many Las Vegas residents eager to get back to work – emphasised the need to reopen in the “safest” way.

– AFP

US coronavirus deaths climb by 1 435 in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins

Coronavirus deaths in the United States climbed by 1 435 in the past 24 hours, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed on Saturday, bringing the total number of fatalities to more than 66,000.

The Baltimore-based university had recorded more than 1.1 million cases in the country as of 20:30 on Saturday (00:30 GMT on Sunday), with 66 224 deaths, a 2% rise from a day earlier.

The US has by far the highest death toll of any country in the global pandemic.

– AFP

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