Nearly 239,000 deaths

More than 244,084 people have died worldwide since the epidemic surfaced in China in December, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally at 1100 GMT yesterday. In all, 3,444,236 cases have now been reported in 195 countries and territories. In the United States, which has the highest toll, 66,385 people have died. Italy is the second hardest-hit country, with 28,710 dead, followed by the United Kingdom with 28,205, Spain 25,264 and France 24,763.

Outbreak in US prison

A massive wave of coronavirus infections is blasting through the world's largest prison population (2.3 million) in the United States. One prison in Marion, Ohio has become the most intensely infected institution across the country, with more than 80 percent of its nearly 2,500 inmates, and 175 staff on top of that, testing positive. Officials say they have few options to enforce social distancing rules in crowded cells and facing severe shortages of medical personnel and personal protective gear everywhere.

Rare unity in US Congress

In a rare joint message, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders rejected the Trump administration's offer to conduct rapid coronavirus screening on senators who will return to Washington next week, stating that the tests should be reserved for the public. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, normally fierce political rivals, issued a statement announcing that Congress was "grateful" for the offer, but that they would "respectfully decline."

10,000 new cases in Russia

Russia yesterday registered 10,633 new coronavirus infections, marking a fresh one-day record increase. Russia is now the European country registering the most new infections. The country have recorded 134,687 cases in total. Fifty eight people died over the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,280.

'Painful' measures in S Arabia

Saudi Arabia will take strict and painful measures to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the finance minister said on Saturday. "We must reduce budget expenditures sharply", Mohammed al-Jadaan said in an interview with Al Arabiya TV.

South Korea to ease rules

South Korea yesterday said it will loosen social distancing rules this week to allow gatherings and events to take place. It appears to have brought its outbreak under control thanks to an extensive "trace, test and treat" programme that has drawn widespread praise. The South reported 13 new infections yesterday.

Source: AFP, Reuters