3.9 billion in lockdown
More than 3.9 billion people, or half of the world's population, has been called on or obliged by their authorities to stay at home, according to an AFP database count. In the US around 85 percent of the population is under confinement. Eritrea declares a 21-day confinement and Sierra Leone announces a three-day lockdown starting on Sunday. Togo decares a three-month "state of emergency" and curfew. Thailand will introduce a six-hour night curfew beginning today.
More than 49,000 deaths
At least 962,977 cases of infection, including 49,180 deaths have been recorded in 187 countries and territories since the epidemic started in December. More than 500,000 infections have been recorded in Europe, which represents more than half the total number of cases worldwide. Italy has officially 13,155 deaths, Spain 10,003, the United States 5,137 and France 4,032. Belgium has topped 1,000 deaths and mainland China, where the epidemic started, has 81,589 cases and 3,318 deaths.
Makkah, Madina under 24-hr curfew
Saudi Arabia has extended curfew restrictions on Islam's two holiest cities to 24 hours to stem the spread of coronavirus as the number of deaths from the disease rose to 21. "Full 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina starting from today until further notice," the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing an interior ministry source. The cities were earlier under a 15-hour daily curfew.
Spain registers a leap of 302,265 jobless claims in March, the biggest on record. In US, another 6.65 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, the most ever recorded, as the coronavirus forces businesses to shut down nationwide.
Doctors warn of malaria
Limited global stocks of two anti-malarial drugs could wreck plans to use the medicines, currently in clinical trials, to treat COVID-19, doctors cautioned on Thursday. Around the world, countries are expanding access to chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which are used to treat malaria and are known to have anti-viral properties. The medicines have shown early promise against the COVID-19 illness in studies in France and China.
The UN's COP 26 climate change summit due to take place in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the British government said. Some 30,000 people, including 200 world leaders, had been due to attend the 10-day conference for crucial talks to halt rising global temperatures.