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Coronavirus cases top 1 million in Brazil as Beijing sees drop in new infections


China‘s capital recorded a further drop in coronavirus cases amid tightened containment measures, while Brazil surpassed 1 million confirmed infections, second only to the United States.

Europe, in contrast, continues to emerge warily from lockdown, with hard-hit Britain considering easing social distancing rules to make it easier for restaurants, pubs and schools to reopen.

Officials reported 22 new cases in Beijing on Saturday, along with five others elsewhere in China. There were no new deaths and 308 people remained hospitalized for treatment.

South Korea recorded 67 new cases, the largest 24-hour increase in about three weeks. Most of them come from the densely populated Seoul area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people reside. Many cases have been linked to exposure in nightlife outlets.

The head of the World Health Organization said Friday that the pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported the day before _ the highest single-day number so far.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said the total number of cases had risen by more than 50,000 from the previous day. President Jair Bolsonaro still downplays the risks of the virus after nearly 50,000 fatalities in three months, saying the impact of social isolation on Brazil’s economy could be more deadly.

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The new coronavirus has infected more than 8.5 million people worldwide and killed more than 454,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The actual number is thought to be much higher because many cases are asymptomatic or go untested.

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South Africa and Ethiopia say they are recommending the limited use of the commonly available steroid dexamethasone for all COVID-19 patients on ventilators or supplementary oxygen. In a British trial, the drug was shown to significantly improve survival chances for the most seriously ill.

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said “this breakthrough is excellent news for us and we are especially fortunate that it came as we are preparing for our upcoming surge” in cases. South Africa has about 30% of the virus cases on the African continent, or more than 87,000.

South Africa continues to loosen lockdown measures under economic pressure, despite reporting nearly 4,000 more COVID-19 cases on Saturday. Casinos, beauty salons and sit-down restaurant service are among the latest permitted activities as the country eases one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.


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