Nearly 3 million more Americans file jobless claims

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.

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Around 2.98 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, more than economist expectations of 2.7 million, and the eighth straight week of numbers in the millions. More than 36.5 million unemployment claims have been filed since the COVID-19 pandemic struck two months ago.

Meanwhile, a Health and Human Services whistle blower, Dr. Rick Bright, warned Congress on Thursday that "2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history" without clear action against the coronavirus.

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

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Patient dances out of hospital after recovering from COVID-19

A heartwarming video shows healthcare workers cheering for a patient who danced out of the hospital after spending nearly 30 days there fighting COVID-19.

Tom Berisha, 49, was first admitted to New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan for COVID-19 treatment in early April. After some 27 days in the hospital fighting the virus, he was finally well enough to be discharged. 

In the video posted on social media by New York-Presbyterian Hospital, healthcare workers line the hospital’s hallway clapping and cheering as Berisha is wheeled out in a wheelchair. Berisha, visibly emotional as he is reunited with his family, then stands up and dances. Hospital employees roar in excitement. 

“To finally see him standing up, reuniting with his family, and going home to get better was overwhelming,” Cynthia Quezada, a clinical nurse manager, said in a statement released by New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “We really appreciate the success stories through this pandemic. It is a light at the end of the tunnel for the patient and for the staff.”

Vietnam determined to save British pilot in order to avoid its first COVID-19 death

Vietnam has mounted an all-out effort to save the life of its most critically ill coronavirus patient, a British pilot who works for Vietnam Airlines. Through aggressive testing and a mass, centralized quarantine program, the Southeast Asian country has kept its tally of total cases to just 288 as of Thursday, and has reported no deaths.

Little expense has been spared to try to save the life of the 43-year-old man, identified only as "Patient 91", who caught the virus at a bar in Ho Chi Minh City in mid-March, state media reported. More than 4,000 people connected to the cluster were tested, with 18 of them found to be infected.

While most have recovered, the British pilot is on life support and his condition has deteriorated significantly. On Tuesday, the health ministry held a meeting with experts from top hospitals and decided that the only way to save the man's life was with a lung transplant.

His case has garnered national interest in Vietnam, where the government has won broad support for its campaign to contain the outbreak. On Thursday, state media said 10 people — including a 70-year-old military veteran — had volunteered themselves as lung donors, but had been turned down by state doctors.

First coronavirus case detected in Rohingya refugee camp

The first confirmed coronavirus case has been detected in a Bangladesh camp, home to more than one million Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar, officials said on Thursday.

An ethnic Rohingya refugee and another person had tested positive for COVID-19, a senior Bangladeshi official and a U.N. spokeswoman said. The camps are more densely populated than most crowded cities on earth.

Aid workers have warned of a potential humanitarian disaster if there is a significant outbreak in the refugee camps outside Cox's Bazar. As many as 60,000 to 90,000 people are jammed into each square kilometer, with families of up to a dozen sharing small shelters.

The Obamas, Oprah Winfrey collaborate on Chicago library initiative

The Obamas and Oprah Winfrey are among the Chicagoans joining "Live from the Library," an initiative aimed at bringing daily storytime to children everywhere. 

"I remember my first trip to the library and how important I felt," Michelle Obama said during a live reading on Wednesday. "My library card was a key that unlocked a world of knowledge and experiences." 

Chicago Public Library launched the initiative after its branches were forced to close for the first time in more than 150 years amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The reading program occurs every weekday at 10:00 a.m. CT and will be livestreamed on CPL's Facebook and Instagram pages. The Chicago Public Library is also partnering with the Obama Foundation to bring another CPL branch to the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

 

The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state

Weekly percent change in new unemployment claims compared with the same period one year earlier. Georgia, Kentucky, Hawaii and Connecticut have seen the largest percentage of cuts, with around 1-in-3 workers in each of those states losing their jobs.

Read more here.

More than 2.9 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, the continuation of a downward trend as more workers return to their jobs after coronavirus-induced lockdowns are lifted across the country.

Normally, that would be an astonishing figure, sending the total number of Americans laid off their jobs over eight weeks past 36.5 million. But there has been a steady decline in the number of weekly claims since mid-March, when first-time filings peaked at 6.9 million in just one week.

States may finally be getting through the backlogs of filers that initially overwhelmed their antiquated systems, while the onslaught of first-time applications may also be tapering off after two months of closure due to coronavirus.

Continuing claims, a metric that captures the total number of people receiving ongoing benefits, is now at around 22.8 million. That number represents one week of lag time behind initial claims.

Restaurant uses toy pandas to ensure social distancing for diners

Two-minute silence held for Spanish health workers who died with COVID-19

A two-minute silence was observed outside hospitals and medical clinics across Spain on Wednesday, as tributes were paid to the 49 medical workers who unions said had died from COVID-19. Doctors, nurses and other health care workers held up signs with black ribbons, remembering their fallen colleagues before breaking out into a round of applause.

 

In a statement, the Forum of the Spanish Medical Profession and the State Confederation of Medical Unions encouraged social media users to join in the tribute online, sending images, videos or messages of remembrance for doctors who had helped fight the pandemic. In Madrid, the Committee on Health of the Congress of Deputies began its session by observing the two-minute silence.

The tribute came on the same day the Spanish Ministry of Health announced 506 new cases of the disease had been registered in the country, and an additional 217 deaths, bringing Spain's total number of cases and deaths to 229,540 and 27,321 respectively. A nationwide antibody study published by the ministry on Wednesday found about 5 percent of the country's population had contracted the virus. 

From France to China, nations worry about low rates of coronavirus infection

In a worrying sign that coronavirus may not be done sweeping through nations that are beginning to emerge from lockdown, recent studies in Spain and France indicate that only a small fraction of these countries' populations had been infected with the virus.

Meanwhile in China, where the outbreak began late last year, health officials said they would intensify the detection and investigation of COVID-19 to prevent any rebound of cases.

In France, where 16,642 people have died from coronavirus so far, according to an NBC News tally, a study led by the Pasteur Institute found only 4.4 percent of the population — or 2.8 million people — had been infected by virus. This rose to between 9 and 10 percent in hard-hit regions such as Paris, according to the study released Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

'Pub-on-wheels' pulls pints on people's doorsteps in London

Customers drink freshly poured pints of beer from the Forest Road Brewing Co "pub on wheels" van during its delivery round in east London.Hannah McKay / Reuters

Britain's pubs may be shut, but one east London brewer has found a new way to keep the beer flowing — by packing his kegs into a van and pulling pints on people's doorsteps.

Driving a white van with the slogan "tactical beer response unit" on the side, Peter Brown, the director of Forest Road Brewing Co., spends his day fulfilling delivery orders. But rather than delivering boxes of cans or bottles, Brown fills pint glasses for his customers out of taps on the side of the van.

"It doesn't fit as much beer as our bar would do on a normal Friday or Saturday, but what we do get is the pure joy on the customers' faces when they see a cold glass of beer for the first time in six weeks," he said. "The look on their faces is just irreplaceable." While Britain's pubs and bars have been closed for nearly two months, under the restrictions of lockdown, food and drink suppliers can still offer delivery services.

U.N. warns of global mental health crisis from coronavirus

The United Nations warned of a looming global mental health crisis as the world struggles to cope with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The virus not only attacks physical health but has increased "psychological suffering" for many, Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message Thursday. From the death of loved ones to job losses and prolonged isolation, he warned that depression and anxiety could rise.

Guterres urged governments to expand mental health policies and funding to support a recovery from the pandemic.