Members of Russia's National Guard wear respirators as the patrol a street during a subdued observance of the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2020.
Members of Russia's National Guard wear respirators as the patrol a street during a subdued observance of the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2020.

Russian officials Saturday reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases close to 200,000.  Officials said 104 people died in the same period.
 
Italy Friday became the third country to record more than 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus, with only Britain and the United States reporting more.
 
In Spain, Madrid and Barcelona announced they would not progress to the next phase of easing their coronavirus lockdowns along with the rest of the country because infection rates were still too high.
 
Compared to other European countries, Sweden has taken an almost laissez-faire approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.   
 
While other countries were shut down and citizens sheltered at home, Sweden’s citizens were seen socializing at restaurants.  They were urged by the government to practice social distancing.  
 
Earlier this week, however, as the country’s death toll approached 3,000, Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist called the total “a horrifyingly large number” and said he is “not convinced” that the Scandinavian's country’s plan of action was the most appropriate.
 
Recent data from Sweden’s public health agency reveals that the country’s immigrant population may be bearing the brunt of the coronavirus contagion.  According to the agency, while Somali Swedes are less than 1% of the population, they represent 5% of the COVID-19 cases.  
 
Public health officials say they are working harder to ensure that the country’s immigrants have the information they need to protect themselves and to prevent them from spreading the disease.  
 
Rashid Musa, a teacher and community activist, told the Associated Press, “I wish it were that easy that you needed to just translate a few papers.”  He said, “We need to look at the more fundamental issue, which is racism, which is social status, which is income.”  
 
Throughout Europe, countries observed the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II Friday in subdued fashion, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Public events were canceled and Europeans were advised to celebrate at home.  
 
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth made a rare televised address that combined the themes of the war and the coronavirus.  
 
In France, President Emmanuel Macron oversaw ceremonies without throngs of people. 

'The virus of hate'

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned Friday that the coronavirus pandemic continues to provoke hatred throughout the world and called for a global effort to combat the trend.  
 
Guterres said, “Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred.”

FILE - Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General is seen on a screen at the Environment Ministry in Berlin, Germany, April 28, 2020.

The U.N. leader said “migrants and refugees have been vilified as a source of the virus – and then denied access to medical treatment.”  Guterres urged political leaders, educational institutions, the media and “civil society” to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”
 
Later Friday, the U.S. blocked a vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a global ceasefire, enabling countries to instead direct all their attention to battling the coronavirus.   
 
The U.S. had agreed to the resolution but withdrew its support because the text did not have a direct reference to the World Health Organization, which the U.S. blames for the outbreak of the virus.  The U.S. has suspended payments to the WHO.
 
In India, authorities in the southern state of Karnataka resumed train service Friday to transport migrant workers home following protests over the plight of stranded workers and reports of deaths among the thousands walking home after losing their jobs during India’s strict lockdown.  
   
The resumption of train service coincided with an accident in western Maharashtra state where a train killed 14 migrant workers who were sleeping on a track before resuming the trek back to their villages.

'Deaths of despair'

As the COVID-19 death toll continues to climb in the U.S., 75,000 more Americans could die from drug or alcohol abuse and suicide because of the pandemic, according to research by the public health group Well Being Trust. COVID-19 has already claimed the lives of more than 77,000 people in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University, the most in the world by far. Friday’s news that the U.S. jobless rate soared to its highest level since the Great Depression of the 1920s threatens to hasten “deaths of despair,” the group said.  
 
The U.S. continues to also lead the world in COVID-19 infections, with 1.28 million, and a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff is the latest high-profile case, the White House said. The White House announced Thursday that a personal valet to President Donald Trump tested positive as well.  
   
South Korea is urging nightclubs to shut down for a month after linking more than a dozen new coronavirus cases to a clubgoer in the capital of Seoul. Schools were scheduled to begin reopening next week, but that may be delayed after 25 new cases were reported Friday, the country’s first increase above 10 in five days. Officials say probes into the new cases would determine the next steps.  
   
Up to 44 million people in Africa could come down with the coronavirus and 190,000 will die if the virus is not contained, the World Health Organization says.  
 
A new World Health Organization report looks at 47 countries on the African continent. It says while the rates of transmission in Africa would be slower than in other parts of the world during the pandemic’s first year, COVID-19 in Africa could “smolder” for a long time in what the report calls hot spots.   
 
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa regional director. “We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”  
    
If little or nothing is done, Dr. Moeti said, the medical capacity across Africa would be “overwhelmed” and added that curbing a largescale outbreak is far costlier than the ongoing preventive measures governments are undertaking to contain the spread of the virus.

In Brief:

  • U.S. leads world in deaths, with more than 77,000, and infections at 1.28 million
  • Italy becomes third country to surpass 30,000 deaths, behind Britain, the U.S.
  • Italy’s 243 Friday fatalities, though, are down from upwards of 900 a day in late March
  • U.N. Chief Guterres warns the pandemic is provoking hatred worldwide
  • U.S. blocks U.N. Security Council resolution for global cease-fire to focus on COVID
  • Outbreak puts a damper on Europe’s commemoration of World War II’s end
  • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth combines themes of war, coronavirus in TV address  
  • Sweden’s death toll spurs questions about approach from chief epidemiologist  
  • Data shows the Sweden’s immigrants may be bearing the brunt of the outbreak

 

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