Coronavirus wrap: US, Spain deaths surge as global toll hovers around 54 000, US sheds 701 000 jobs and Boris Johnson continues self-isolation

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

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Coronavirus toll at 11:00 (GMT) Friday

Paris – The worldwide number of officially confirmed fatalities from the novel coronavirus rose to 53 693 on Friday, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 11:00 (GMT) from official sources.

More than 1 035 380 declared cases have been registered in 188 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 201 500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP offices from national authorities and information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. Many countries are only testing cases that require hospitalisation.

Italy, which recorded its first coronavirus death at the end of February, has 13 915 fatalities, with 115 242 infections and 18 278 people recovered. Spain has recorded 10 935 fatalities and 117 710 infections.

 - AFP

US and Spanish deaths surge as world virus toll breaks 50 000

Madrid – The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths accelerated past 50 000 on Friday as the United States, Spain and Britain grappled with their highest tolls yet and the world economy took a massive hit.

The human scale of the pandemic has never been more stark – experts warning that more than one million cases of Covid-19 disease confirmed globally is probably only a small proportion of total infections as testing is still not widely available.

The United States accounts for around a quarter of confirmed cases but Europe is far from being out of danger – Spain reported more than 900 deaths in 24 hours on Friday, for the second day running.

While Italy still leads the world in fatalities, France, Belgium and Britain have also been hard hit. The UK government is rushing to build field hospitals after a one-day toll of 569.

 - AFP

US employment plunges 701 000 in March amid coronavirus - government

Washington – The US economy shed 701 000 jobs in March amid the damage inflicted by the coronavirus shutdowns, while the unemployment rate surged to 4.4%, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

That was the worst job loss since March 2009 during the depths of the global financial crisis, and the biggest single-month jump in the jobless rate in more than 45 years, the report said.

The leisure and hospitality sectors – among the first to feel the impact of the travel restrictions – lost 459 000 jobs, the report said. But notable losses also were recorded in healthcare, retail and businesses services.

However, the Labor Department acknowledged it "cannot precisely quantify the effects of the pandemic on the job market in March".

 - AFP

UK PM Johnson continues self-isolation

London – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said he would continue his self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, following a week of staying at home and working remotely.

Johnson, 55, became the most high-profile world leader to contract the virus when he announced he had tested positive last Friday. He has been working from a flat above his Downing Street offices since then, and had been expected to re-emerge on Friday.

But he said in a video message on Twitter: "In my own case, although I'm feeling better and I have done my seven days of isolation, alas, I still have one of the minor symptoms... a temperature.

"So, in accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes."

 - AFP

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