International Covid-19 news: Migrants stranded all over the world, more apply for unemployment in US

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A woman wears protective gloves near Paris' Eiffel tower the second day after the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron of the confinement of the French due to an outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A woman wears protective gloves near Paris' Eiffel tower the second day after the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron of the confinement of the French due to an outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Thousands of migrants have been left stranded by the coronavirus pandemic, unable to move due to lockdowns and border closures around the globe, the United Nations said on Thursday.

AFP reports that the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in southeast Asia, east Africa and Latin America, many were attempting to return to their countries of origin but were unable to do so.

Migrant camps were "very prone" to spreading the disease, IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino told reporters in an online briefing.

"There are thousands of stranded migrants all over the world," he said.

"Lots of migrants that were on the move, some of them wanted to return to their country of origin, precisely because of the pandemic," he said, adding that others had become "stranded" on their migratory routes.

"They are blocked in the border areas in very difficult conditions without access to minimal care, especially health screening," he said.

"This is a source of enormous concern."

Vitorino said the IOM was asking governments to allow aid workers in to access large groups congregating near borders.

3.2 million Americans claim for unemployment

New claims for unemployment benefits filed by US workers declined slightly last week, but were still a staggering 3.2 million, government data says, AFP reports. 

The data from the Labor Department bring the total claims filed since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to close their doors to stop the virus's spread, to 33.5 million.

The number of claims filed last week were slightly more than analysts expected and underscore the continuing damage done by the pandemic the United States, where 73 095 people have died from the disease and 1 227 430 cases have been reported as of Wednesday.

However, Thursday's figure for the week ending 2 May was a decrease from the previous week, when 3.8 million workers filed new unemployment claims.

Pakistan to ease lockdown despite growing number of cases

Pakistan will begin easing its nationwide lockdown over the weekend, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday, citing the economic havoc the measures have wreaked, AFP reports.

This is despite increased testing showing a rise in new coronavirus cases.

Khan called on the public to continue following social distancing guidelines as businesses start to reopen in phases, saying another lockdown would be imposed if cases spiked again.

Schools will remain closed until mid-July, while there were no plans to restart public transportation or domestic flights just yet.

The easing of the lockdown comes with many across the country already openly flouting its restrictions and gathering in public, especially during the evenings as people celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

Last month, authorities buckled under pressure from religious groups ahead of Ramadan and allowed mosques to hold daily prayers and evening congregations after clerics promised to instruct religious leaders to clean their facilities regularly.

Thousands of shoppers have also thronged popular markets, including many without wearing protective gear, to buy food for the evening iftar meal that celebrates the end of each day's fasting.

Infections have been rising steadily as testing has increased, with over 23 000 cases recorded in the nation of over 210 million.

The death toll in Pakistan however remains low, at 564, according to government figures.

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