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G-7 Leaders Weigh Safety of In-Person Summit Amid Coronavirus


FILE - Locals and tourists walk along a nearly empty St. Mark's square in Venice, Italy, March 3, 2020.
FILE - Locals and tourists walk along a nearly empty St. Mark's square in Venice, Italy, March 3, 2020.

Leaders of the G-7 nations are considering U.S. President Donald Trump’s idea of meeting for an in-person summit, perhaps next month, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 5 million.

Trump floated the idea Wednesday as he tweeted that the United States is “Transitioning back to Greatness.”

"The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK,” Trump said. “It would be a great sign to all -- normalization!"

Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Thursday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attendance “is still under consideration,” and that the two countries have “been in close contact.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the question of meeting in person or virtually will involve examining what safety measures are in place and the recommendations of experts.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said he is open to traveling for the talks, if “health conditions allow,” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will “wait and see what happens.”

All of the G-7 members have begun lifting lockdown restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus.

Japan’s economy minister said Thursday experts approved a government plan to lift a state of emergency in Osaka and two other prefectures, while keeping in place the orders for Tokyo.

The World Health Organization said Wednesday a record 106,000 new coronavirus cases were identified globally, the highest daily number since the outbreak began.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news briefing that almost two-thirds of the new cases were confirmed in just four countries. He did not name them, but several news reports name the four countries as the United States, Russia, Brazil and India.

Brazil had a record number of new cases Wednesday since the outbreak began there: close to 20,000 in one day. Officials in the country’s most populous city, Sao Paulo, announced a six-day holiday aimed at keeping people from going out and spreading the virus.

More than 328,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus. The United States has the most confirmed cases, about 1.5 million, and the highest death toll, more than 93,000.

Italy reported Wednesday that its number of new cases fell from 813 to 665, while Spain reported fewer than 100 deaths for the fourth consecutive day. Both countries were early hot spots for the pandemic.

Work continues on potential vaccines, and on Thursday pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said it had deals in place to manufacture 400 million doses of a vaccine developed by Oxford University. The vaccine is still undergoing trials necessary to determine whether it is both effective and safe.

AstraZeneca said it has received $1 billion from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for development and delivery of the vaccine. The department said the deal included an order for 300 million doses of the vaccine.

AstraZeneca said it would supply the additional 100 million doses to Britain, with its first deliveries planned for September.

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