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States react to Trump's plan to reopen U.S. while some hear a call to arms

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Medical workers are seen as they take swab samples from people to be tested for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on April 16, 2020.Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images

A number of governors said that while they would take President Donald Trump's new guidelines to reopen state economies under consideration, they were wary of moving too fast in the face of unresolved issues like testing shortages.

But some Americans are calling for a quick return to business as normal and marched on state capitols Friday to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, extremists have interpreted Trump's recent tweets to "LIBERATE" certain states as a call to arms.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 18 coronavirus news here.

Lions nap in the road during South Africa lockdown

Lions and other wild animals have been taking advantage of the strict lockdown in South Africa, as there are no human visitors visiting the 2 million hectare Kruger National Park.

Photographs taken by ranger Richard Sowry show a pride of lions napping in the sun on the tarmac just outside one of the park’s rest lodges.

In a Twitter post, the park explained that the lions was were not usually resident in areas of the park open to tourists.

The pandemic in pictures: 29 images from around the world

A Yonkers Fire Department EMT arrives to assist EMS medics with a patient with COVID-19 symptoms on Tuesday in Yonkers, N.Y.John Moore / Getty Images

NBC News' picture editors have brought together 29 of the most striking images of the pandemic around the world in the last seven days. See the full gallery here.

German foreign minister: Trump's WHO funding cut like 'throwing a pilot out of the aircraft'

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned President Donald Trump's decision to halt payments to the World Health Organization on Thursday, in a continuation of the wave of global criticism of the move.

Speaking to German public service broadcaster ZDF on Thursday evening, Maas said: “To call the WHO into question or to cut off its financing in such a phase, is as if you would throw the pilot out of a flying aircraft.”

Trump has accused the WHO of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the coronavirus crisis, specifically the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.

London Mayor calls on U.K. to change advice on face masks

London Mayor Sadiq Khan reiterated his calls for face masks to be worn “if you really can’t stay at home” on Friday. The U.K. is “an outlier” in not following the recommended health policy, he said.

“The government’s advice should change so that in those circumstances where it is not possible for us to keep our social distance — think of public transport usage, think of when you’re in a shop — we should be using non-medical facial coverings like bandanas, like scarves, like reusable masks,” Khan told BBC Radio on Friday.

The U.K. extended its lockdown for three more weeks on Thursday until at least May 7, as concerns grow Britain that the crisis was far from abating.

A woman wearing a face mask and a plastic bag pulls a cart loaded with bags of recyclables through the streets of Lower Manhattan on Thursday.Johannes Eisele / AFP - Getty Images

Coronavirus testing must double or triple before U.S. can safely reopen, experts say

Testing for the coronavirus would have to be at least doubled or tripled from its current levels to allow for even a partial reopening of America's economy, public health experts say, but it is unclear how soon such an ambitious goal could be reached amid persistent shortages of testing supplies and a lack of coordination from the Trump administration.

Without diagnostic testing on a massive scale, federal and state officials and private companies will lack a clear picture of who has been infected, who can safely return to work, how the virus is spreading and when stay-at-home orders can be eased, public health experts say

Read the full story here

South Korea joins international effort to develop vaccine

South Korea is working with the International Vaccine Institute to create clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, Kwon Joon Uk, the deputy director-general of the Korea Centers for Disease Control said in a briefing Thursday evening.

“The first clinical trial in South Korea will comprise of about 40 people and the second clinical trial will involve about 160 people,” he said. The government will also be launching a group on Friday for research and development of COVID-19 vaccine, treatments, test kits and other related materials.

“Currently, the final negotiations between respective medical entities remain but we cautiously speculate that the clinical trials could start from June,” Kwon said.

South Korea has earned praise for largely managing to bring its epidemic under control thanks to an extensive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing. As of Friday, it has reported about 10,000 confirmed cases. 

Outbreak hits China's economy harder than anything since 1970s

China suffered its worst economic contraction since at least the 1970s in the first quarter as it fought the coronavirus, and weak consumer spending and factory activity suggest it faces a longer, harder recovery than initially expected.

The world’s second-largest economy shrank 6.8 percent from a year ago in the three months ending in March after factories, shops and travel were closed to contain the infection, official data showed Friday.

That was stronger than some forecasts that called for a contraction of up to 16 percent but China’s worst performance since before market-style economic reforms started in 1979.

Read the full story here.