Spaniards filled the streets Saturday to exercise outside in gorgeous spring weather for the first time in seven weeks, while German children rushed to playgrounds as countries in Western Europe moved ahead with the gradual relaxation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, the AP reports. Russia and Pakistan, however, reported their biggest one-day spikes in new infections, in a sign the pandemic is far from over. For details:
- Concern was growing in Moscow that hospitals might become overwhelmed after Russia recorded a new one-day high of 9,633 new infections, a 20% increase over Friday's count, which itself was a new daily record. Russia has now reported 124,054 total cases, with 15,013 recoveries and 1,222 fatalities. True numbers are believed to be higher because not everyone is tested and Russian tests are reported to be only 70% to 80% accurate. Moscow’s mayor said this week that officials are considering establishing temporary hospitals at sports complexes and shopping malls to deal with the influx of patients.
- At the same time, Spain, one of the worst-hit countries in the world with 25,100 deaths and more than 216,500 cases of COVID-19, was rolling back some emergency measures that helped bring the outbreak under control and save hospitals from collapse. Since Spain’s lockdown started March 14, only adults have been able to leave home, for shopping for food, medicine and other essential goods, and to walk dogs close to home. The lockdown is credited with succeeding in reducing daily increases of infections from more than 20% to less than 1%.
- In Italy, which has seen the most deaths in Europe with more than 28,000, people looked enviously at Spain as they awaited their own relaxation of restrictions now that the number of new cases has leveled out.
- Germany, which has registered more than 164,000 cases but seen only about 6,700 deaths, has strict social-distancing guidelines but never restricted people going outside for exercise. Smaller shops have already opened and this is the first weekend in which playgrounds, museums and zoos are permitted to open as well.
- China, where the pandemic began in December, reported a single new infection Saturday, extending a steady decline in confirmed cases. South Korea reported six new cases on Saturday, none of them in the hard-hit city of Daegu in the southeast. Both countries are easing anti-virus controls and reviving economic activity.
- But Pakistan on Saturday announced 1,297 new cases, raising the total in the country of 220 million people to 18,114.
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