White House considers scaling back daily briefings after disinfectant comments

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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Jessica King sits under a dryer at Three-13 Salon, Spa and Boutique, during the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the state, in Marietta, Ga., on April 24, 2020.Bita Honarvar / Reuters

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The White House is considering scaling back President Donald Trump's daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic as his aides and allies increasingly worry that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically.

Those concerns reached an inflection point when the president suggested on Thursday evening that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

The evaluation of Trump's briefings comes as the worldwide death toll for the coronavirus surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Over 20,000 of those fatalities have been in the United Kingdom, the country's health minister said Saturday, making it the fifth nation to reach that grim milestone.In China, where the pandemic began, the government reported no new deaths for a 10th straight day.Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Quarantine breakers to be given electronic tracking wristbands in South Korea

South Korea will strap electronic wristbands on those who have ignored home-quarantine orders starting next week, according to the country's Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures headquarters. 

The so-called "Safety Band" will regulate the people violating self-isolation, South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said on Friday. Those who refuse to wear the bands after breaking quarantine will be sent to shelters where they will be asked to pay for accommodation, he said according to the Associated Press. 

South Korea has reported 10 new cases of the virus on Saturday — the eighth day in a row its daily jump was below 20. No new deaths were reported Saturday for the second straight day, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The figures brought national totals to 10,718 cases and 240 deaths on Saturday. South Korea has largely managed to bring its epidemic under control due to an extensive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.

India, Pakistan ease restrictions for some businesses amid lockdown

The Indian government allowed a limited reopening of small businesses in residential areas on Saturday, more than a month after the nation went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, officials said.

Late Friday the federal home ministry said retail shops could start operations with the staff number reduced by 50 percent, while also requiring appropriate social distancing, wearing of masks and gloves during work. The sale of liquor and other non-essential items will continue to be prohibited, and no shops in large market places or malls will be allowed to open for business until May 3.

India has reported 24,506 cases of the virus and 775 deaths, with authorities setting up new teams to focus on compliance and implementation of lockdown measures.

In neighboring Pakistan, the government extended the nationwide lockdown till May 9. However, it is switching to a so-called "smart lockdown" from Saturday for targeted tracking and tracing of cases while allowing some industrial and commercial activities to begin under safety guidelines.

China reports no new deaths for tenth straight day

No new deaths have been reported in China for the tenth consecutive day on Saturday. 

The country's National Health Commission also recorded just 12 new cases, 11 of which it said were brought in from overseas. There was a local transmission in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang bordering on Russia, according to the Associated Press.

The country has reported a total of 4,632 deaths and 82,816 cases, but the total number of active cases is now below 1,000. As a result officials have slowly started to loosen restrictions on residents.

Brazil becoming coronavirus hot spot as testing falters

RIO DE JANEIRO — Cases of the new coronavirus are overwhelming hospitals, morgues and cemeteries across Brazil as Latin America’s largest nation veers closer to becoming one of the world’s pandemic hot spots.

Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse, or already too overwhelmed to take any more patients.

Health experts expect the number of infections in the country of 211 million people will be much higher than what has been reported because of insufficient, delayed testing.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has shown no sign of wavering from his insistence that COVID-19 is a relatively minor disease and that broad social-distancing measures are not needed to stop it. He has said only Brazilians at high risk should be isolated.

The health ministry has confirmed nearly 53,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 3,600 deaths. By official counts, the country had its worst day yet on Thursday, with about 3,700 new cases and more than 400 deaths, and Friday was nearly as grim.

Experts warned that paltry testing means the true number of infections is far greater. And because it can take a long time for tests to be processed, the current numbers actually reflect deaths that happened one or two weeks ago, said Domingos Alves, adjunct professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, who is involved in the project.

Judge says government must release migrant children

A federal judge said in a ruling Friday that the Trump administration must "make every effort to promptly and safely release" the minors.

Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee said the administration was again violating a longstanding agreement that generally compels the government to release migrant children detained at the border within 20 days.

Plaintiffs represented by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law alleged the coronavirus crisis has caused further delays in the mandated release of migrant children, who could face increased risk of exposure in government-funded detention.

"This court order could very well prevent hundreds of children from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 infection, and may even save some children’s lives," longtime plaintiffs' attorney Peter Schey said by email.

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