Armed anti-lockdown protesters in Michigan, beaches closed in California

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seattle
A physician administers a test for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site Wednesday in Seattle. David Ryder / Reuters

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As states around the U.S. consider reopening, the country's death toll topped 61,000, according to an NBC News tally. Globally, there have been more than 232,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Protesters, some armed, demonstrated on Thursday against the Michigan lockdown on the steps of the state capitol building. And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down beaches in Orange County after seeing what he called "disturbing" images of crowds from over the weekend.

Florida on Wednesday announced that it would slowly reopen. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the plan to lift restrictions "in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way," will go into effect Monday in every county except the three where most of the state's COVID-19 cases have been reported.

Meanwhile, South Korea recorded no new domestic COVID-19 cases for the first time in 72 days. The country dealt with the first major outbreak outside China, but brought the crisis under control with a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.

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

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Cleaner air in Europe leads to 11,000 fewer deaths, study shows

An improvement in air quality from coronavirus lockdowns over the past month avoided 11,000 deaths from pollution across Europe, a study showed Thursday.

The measures to combat the virus have led to an approximately 40 percent reduction in average level of nitrogen dioxide pollution and a 10 percent reduction in average level of particle matter pollution across Europe over the past 30 days, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said in a briefing. These pollution reductions have led to the substantial depletion in deaths caused by asthma, strokes and other pre-existing conditions.

The decrease in air pollution resulted from unprecedented reductions in coal and oil burning in Europe, the study said. This has also helped to generally alleviate pressure on the health care system during this crisis, it said, noting the analysis highlighted “the tremendous benefits for public health” that could be achieved by “rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way."

NYC man stole over $12,000 in stimulus checks from mailboxes, prosecutors say

A New York City man was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing nine coronavirus stimulus checks worth more than $12,000 from mailboxes, federal prosecutors say.

Feng Chen, 31, was spotted by police early Tuesday morning looking inside mailboxes in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Chen was seen searching a medical-collection bin and looking at mail left at a door, according to the complaint and court statements. After leaving a different building with what appeared to be mail, Chen saw the police officers and “tossed the mail on the sidewalk,” prosecutors say.

Read the full story here.

Jobless claims top 30 million as coronavirus continues to devastate economy

Around 3.8 million more workers filed for first-time employment benefits last week, bringing the national jobless total to a staggering 30 million — or around 18 percent of the workforce.

Nationwide lockdowns led to the abrupt shutdown of the economy in mid-March, leaving millions of people scrambling to file for unemployment insurance. The sheer volume of applicants has overwhelmed the system, with many states reporting website outages and hourslong delays on telephone helplines.

That has led to inaccurate accounting of the jobless, as many people report waits of six weeks or more to even file their claim. States are working to correct this, by adding thousands more workers to process applications.

Data to be released May 8 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is likely to elucidate the full number of unemployed in America.

Read the full story here.

Swedish town uses chicken manure to deter gatherings

Garden workers fertilize lawns in an attempt to prevent residents from gathering to mark Walpurgis Night amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in Lund, Sweden on Thursday.Johan Nilsson / Reuters

A town in southern Sweden has turned to chicken manure in order to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus during an annual festive event on Thursday.

The manure bought from a local farm will serve dual purpose: “It will both fertilize the lawn of the park for the summer, at the same time, it will stink,” Lund's Mayor Phillip Sandberg said. The town council on Thursday morning used one ton of the fertilizer in the university town's central park that often hosts “Sweden’s largest picnic” of about 30,000 people on April 30 each year.

Walpurgis Night is typically celebrated with picnics, parties and bonfires across the country, and regularly attracts thousands of students. As it’s an informal event without any formal organizing part, it cannot be cancelled based on the current national recommendations banning official gatherings over 50 people.

Drug dealers using food delivery services to traffic substances, police say

Criminals have been using food delivery services to transport and distribute drugs in several countries worldwide amid coronavirus lockdowns, Interpol warned on Thursday.

The France-based police agency said it received reports from Ireland, Malaysia, Spain and the United Kingdom about delivery drivers transporting illicit substances including cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy. 

In one incident, Irish Gardai officers recovered nearly 18 pounds of cocaine and two handguns hidden in pizza boxes. In another, a Malaysian food delivery rider contacted police after being tasked to deliver a single order of Indian flatbread that suspiciously weighed 24 pounds. Interpol has issued the notice to its 194 member countries to increase cooperation between police agencies and better tackle the drug trade during the global health crisis. 

Fauci warns states against reopening too soon

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that states that are reopening their economies or states that are considering taking that action soon “can’t just leap over things” and get into a situation where the coronavirus makes a rebound in that region.

In an interview on the “TODAY” show, Savannah Guthrie asked Fauci whether the states that are beginning to reopen have the capability to conduct the contact tracing needed if an outbreak starts again. Fauci said that he can’t go state by state but urged states that don’t have the capability to “go very slowly.”

“You can't just leap over things and get into a situation where you're really tempting a rebound. That's the thing I get concerned about,” he said. “I hope they don't do that.”

Serbians protests against strict lockdown measures with pans and horns

A cacophony of tin pans, drums, whistles, and horns has reverberated through much of Serbia on Wednesday as stuck-at-home citizens vented their anger at the government and its strict containment measures to curb the coronavirus.

For the fourth night in a row on Wednesday evening, people across Serbia responded to the call by the Don’t Let Belgrade Drown Initiative to protest by making noise against what they called dictatorship in the country, local news reported. The noise starts at 8:05 p.m. after the applause for medical staff. Later in the evening on Wednesday, supporters of the ruling Serbian party organized a counter-noise protest, lighting torches and cheering President Aleksandar Vucic.

Serbia, which has reported 8,497 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 173 deaths from the virus, introduced stringent measures last month, including a state of emergency, closure of borders, daily curfew from 4 p.m. local time, and total lockdowns all weekend, including all four days of the Easter holiday. While the government has started to lift restrictions as the rate of infections slows, it said that a lockdown during the Labor Day holiday on May 1 — a important celebration in Serbia — should remain in place.

Britain likely to miss virus testing target, minister admits

Britain will more than likely miss its target of carrying out 100,000 virus tests a day by the end of April, Justice Minister Robert Buckland said on Thursday. Around 52,000 tests were carried out on Wednesday, according health officials.

"Even if it isn't met, we are well on our way to ramping this up," Buckland told a BBC morning show on Thursday. "Even if we don't meet the target today, the effort that's been put in to increase these numbers is remarkable," he said.

The original target was set by the U.K.'s health minister earlier this month. The government has faced growing criticism over low levels of virus testing, as well as complaints from health workers over a lack of sufficient protective gear.

British doctors warn some Chinese ventilators could kill if used in hospitals

Ventilators arrive at a military logistics hub in Shropshire from China earlier this month.Sgt Ben Beale/MoD / PA file

Senior British doctors have warned that 250 ventilators the United Kingdom bought from China risk causing "significant patient harm, including death," if they are used in hospitals, according to a letter seen by NBC News.

The doctors said the machines had a problematic oxygen supply, could not be cleaned properly, had an unfamiliar design and a confusing instruction manual, and were built for use in ambulances, not hospitals.

The British case is not an isolated one, and it comes as a stark example of a procurement problem that has plagued many countries as the coronavirus has spread throughout the world.

Read the full story here.