Italy PM signals longer lockdown; France's Covid-19 death toll at 20,796

Topics Coronavirus | Italy | Lockdown

The number of people who are officially being treated for Covid-19 -- either at home or in hospital -- is falling in Italy
Despite a significant drop for the second time in the number of registered coronavirus cases in the country, Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prepared countrymen for a longer lockdown on Tuesday.

Italy is approaching a fateful decision on whether to lift stay-at-home orders and reopen businesses for the first time in nearly two months on May 4.

Italy's virus death total of 24,648 is still Europe's highest and second globally after the United States, news agency PTI reported.

Conte is being pushed into erring on the side of caution by leading doctors -- and to think more about the economic toll by big business leaders and some regional chiefs.

Many businesses warn that they will not be able stand idle much longer and Italy's push for a comprehensive economic rescue from the European Union is running into resistance in Brussels.

Conte has convened a taskforce comprised of leading economists and health experts to weigh all the pros and cons.

But he indicated Tuesday that Italians will probably have to put up with various forms of restrictions for some time to come.

"I would like to be able to say, let's open everything. Right away," Conte wrote on Facebook. "But such a decision would be irresponsible."

The number of people who are officially being treated for Covid-19 -- either at home or in hospital -- is falling in every region. The number dropped by 528 nationally on Tuesday to a total of 107,709.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a Rand 500 billion ($26 billion) economic and social relief package to counter the devastating effects on the country's economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa was addressing the nation in a live TV broadcast on Tuesday evening but there was no indication of whether the lockdown, now in its 26th day after the initial 21 days were extended by a fortnight, would be extended further.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of infections and deaths due to Covid-19 across the country in the last few days.

There was much anticipation that there would be an announcement around easing some elements of the lockdown, especially since there have been widespread calls for lifting the prohibition on sale of hot prepared foods by restaurants and supermarkets as well as the sale and transport of liquor.

Ramaphosa said he would make another announcement on Thursday evening on measures to boost the country's economy.

Meanwhile, Russia's opposition has called for an online protest next week to press the Kremlin for financial aid for people struggling under the coronavirus lockdown.

During an online Youtube rally next Tuesday, Moscow councillors Yulia Galyamina, Ilya Azar and their allies also plan to seek an amnesty for prisoners and oppose President Vladimir Putin's plan to change the constitution in a move that could allow him to stay in power until 2036.

Putin has been forced to defer a key vote on the proposed amendment.

"We demand that the president and the Russian government adopt emergency measures to save people during the crisis," the organisers said in a manifesto posted on Galyamina's Facebook page.

The organisers invited supporters to send them "virtual" placards that will be shown live during the protest.

The coronavirus outbreak and a fall in oil prices have hit the Russian economy, and many have been left without jobs.

In Ireland, the government has announced that the ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people in the country will run through the end of August.

"Local authorities have been advised by Government that event promoters should be informed that events requiring licenses in excess of 5,000 will not be considered for the period up to the end of August," the government said in a statement on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.

The Irish Department of Health on Tuesday reported another 44 Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 730.

In France, which plans to unwind some restriction measures from May 11, registered 531 more Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday as hospitalisation-related figures pursue a slow decline.

Hospitals and nursing homes numbers showed that combined deaths caused by the Covid-19 rose to 20,796, up from Monday's 20,265, Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon told a daily briefing on the epidemic, news agency IANS reported.

The number of new hospitalisations and serious cases continued to slow down, suggesting that the national lockdown has positive effects in containing the respiratory illness.

As of Tuesday, 30,106 patients were hospitalised, compared with 30,584 a day before and 30,610 on Sunday. The number of people in intensive care had fallen for the 13th consecutive day to 5,433.

Meanwhile, Nepal's Covid-19 hotspot, Udaypur district, on Tuesday recorded 11 new cases taking the total count of coronavirus cases to 42 in the country.

"...The total number of Covid-19 patients in Nepal has reached 42," Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population said.

"While testing the samples of suspected cases residing at Triyuga Municipality's Bhulke, 11 have come out positive and are being kept under observation at Koshi Hospital, Biratnagar," the ministry added.

As many as 260 samples have been collected from Bhulke, which has been declared as the hotspot for the outbreak in the Himalayan nation.

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