Millions of people around the world have observed Good Friday, the day Christians believe Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, as the coronavirus continues to take its toll, claiming more than 100,000 lives worldwide.
The rituals of the holy day were different this year as most worshippers had to view the solemn ceremonies on various media platforms instead of gathering in churches because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
While much of the globe is sheltering at home to slow the transmission of the deadly virus, the number of infections continues to climb.
Nearly 1.7 million people worldwide had contracted the disease as of late Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The center reported more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths globally, but many public health experts throughout the world believe fatalities are much higher due to limited postmortem testing, COVID-19 deaths that were not attributed to the disease, and deaths that go unreported due to homelessness and other factors.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, describes the U.S. death toll as “an underestimation,” tracking only fatalities that were confirmed in laboratory tests.
The United States had its deadliest day from the virus on Friday, logging more than 2,100 new fatalities, according to the Johns Hopkins tally. The U.S. is now the global hotspot for the virus, with nearly 500,000 cases.
Meanwhile, Trump Friday ordered U.S. agencies, from the Defense Department to the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide assistance to hard-hit Italy as that country deals with the crisis.
Assisting Italy will help fight the outbreak and mitigate the effect of the pandemic “while simultaneously demonstrating United States leadership in the face of Chinese and Russian disinformation campaigns, lessening the risk of re-infection from Europe into the United States, and maintaining critical supply chains,” he said.
In Brazil, the death toll surpassed 1,000 on Friday, making it the first country in the region to reach that number.
China continued to report low numbers of new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, saying Hubei province, where the virus originated, logged zero new cases, while the rest of China recorded 46 new cases.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned countries Friday to be careful about easing restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.
Tedros said the WHO would like to see some easing of restrictions but also warned that "lifting restrictions could lead to a deadly resurgence."
The WHO chief cited a "welcome slowing" of epidemics in the hard-hit European countries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain but noted there had been an "alarming acceleration" in other countries, including in 16 African nations.
Some countries throughout the world are extending lockdowns going into the Easter weekend. Authorities in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta imposed a partial lockdown out of concern the country’s health care system could be overburdened. Tokyo’s governor requested that an array of businesses such as bars and restaurants close down, after reaching an agreement with the Japanese central government.
Additional security measures are being applied in parts of Europe to discourage people from violating restrictions on movement over the Easter weekend. Some 1,200 police officers are patrolling popular gathering places in the French city of Saint-Etienne. Paris has adopted similar measures.
Britain is increasing efforts to discourage travel, with police forces warning travelers not to visit the country. Similar measures are also in place in Spain, where police are stopping drivers on roads leading out of major cities to prevent them from spending the weekend at vacation homes.
In the United States, the Trump administration is increasingly focused on considering when to reopen the U.S. economy, largely shut down due to the virus. Around 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment compensation over the past three weeks, cutting the U.S. workforce by 10 percent.
Trump told a coronavirus briefing Friday he will announce on Tuesday the members of a new task force that will help to determine when and how to open up the country.
He said the individuals are people “you have a lot of respect for, a lot of great names, different businesses, different people, top, bipartisan.”
Finance ministers from the 19 eurozone countries Thursday agreed on a package worth more than half a trillion euros to help companies, workers and health care systems mitigate the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. The measures provide for Italy and Spain to quickly gain access to the eurozone's bailout fund for up to $262 billion, so long as the money is used for the needs of their health care systems.