Europe surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths across the continent on Sunday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Italy continues to hold the highest European death toll, followed by Spain, France and the United Kingdom.
Meantime, in the United States, governors across the country criticized President Donald Trump's expression of solidarity with those protesting various state-issued stay-at-home orders, saying his comments are "dangerous" and "don't make any sense."
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
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Pray at home during Ramadan, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority says
Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, urged Muslims worldwide to pray at home during Ramadan if their countries require social distancing, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.
"Muslims shall avoid gatherings, because they are the main cause of the spread of infection...and shall remember that preserving the lives of people is a great act that brings them closer to God," it said in a statement.
The holy fasting month of Ramadan begins later this week. During the month, believers usually break their fast with families and friends and perform an evening prayer in large gatherings at mosques.
The Saudi government in mid-March banned worshippers from performing their five daily prayers inside mosques as part of efforts to limit the spread. The country has reported 8,274 cases and 92 deaths so far, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states.
Italian businesses prepare to reopen after weeks of lockdown
Pakistan to keep mosques open during holy month of Ramadan
Even as Pakistan’s daily confirmed cases inches upward, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government buckled to pressure on Saturday from religious clerics and refused to order the closure of mosques during Islamic fasting month of Ramadan which begins next week.
Pakistan recorded 7,993 confirmed cases on Sunday, an increase of 514. Sixteen people died of the virus in the last 24 hours bringing the death toll to 159.
Pakistan has been blamed for contributing to the outbreak of the virus in other parts of the world including Gaza after it refused to stop a gathering of tens of thousands of Tableeghi Jamaat (Islamic missionaries) until early March.
While the government agreed to leave the mosques open instead requesting the faithful to practice social distancing, the request is not likely to be followed after several prominent religious clerics called for adherents to pack the mosques.
Israeli government approves plan to ease lockdown restrictions
Israel has approved plans to gradually ease lockdown measures, by letting some businesses reopen and relaxing curbs on movement after a slowdown in infection rates, government officials said Sunday.
Workplace staffing levels can increase to 30 percent from 15 percent, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance said in a statement. While some shops will be allowed to reopen, malls and large markets will largely remain closed.
In televised remarks on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had "succeeded” in combating the pandemic and said that the country has one of the lowest death rates around the world.
Until now, authorities in Israel had steadily tightened a partial lockdown imposed on March 14, shuttering offices, closing schools and ordering people to stay mostly at home. Israel reported at least 160 deaths and nearly 13,300 cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday evening.
Spanish PM to ease confinement of children but extend lockdown
Spain will relax strict measures that have kept children at home since Mar. 14 so that they can “go out on the streets,” the country's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised briefing on Saturday evening.
Sanchez said there would be an 12-year-old age limit for the children allowed to go out and that the new measure would begin on Apr. 27.
He also said that he would ask parliament for a 15-day extension until May 9 of the lockdown imposed in one of the world's worst outbreaks, but said the restrictions would generally be more flexible.
"We have left behind the most extreme moments," Sanchez said. But he added: "These achievements are still insufficient and above all fragile. We cannot put them at risk with hasty solutions." While Spain's death toll from the virus rose at a slower pace on Saturday, it has surpassed 20,000 fatalities, the Health Ministry said.
Navajo Nation decrees that protective masks should be worn on reservation
The Navajo Nation has ordered all people on the tribe’s vast reservation to wear protective masks when out in public to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. The Navajo Department of Health issued the emergency health order for the reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The Navajo Nation — which has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other Native American tribe, reported 1,197 cases as of Saturday, according to Navajo Area Indian Health Service.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said all residents should either buy or make masks to comply with the order.
“Some individuals think we’re using scare tactics or extreme measures, but we are losing lives here on the Navajo Nation, and I’m going to do everything I can to help save lives,” Nez said in a statement Friday.
South Korea records first single digit case increase in two months
South Korea reported eight new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the first time a daily increase has dropped to a single digit in about two months.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the figures took the country’s total cases to 10,661 with 234 deaths.
The government, however, is still cautious about easing strict social distancing that they believe contributed to the drastic curbing of the infection. South Korea extended its distancing measures for another 15 days on Sunday.
“We must not loosen our guard until the last confirmed patient is recovered,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. Infections in South Korea has been waning in recent weeks due to an extensive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.
Japanese government faces complaints after giving out dirty masks
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unpopular handouts of old-fashioned cloth masks as part of his coronavirus measures faced complaints, as thousands of those sent to pregnant women were dirty.
The health ministry said over the weekend that it has received at least 1,900 cases of the problems reported by 80 municipalities that the masks came with stains, dust and other contamination. The dirty masks were among a half million masks that the government started sending to pregnant women in Japan as a priority last week.
Abe announced a plan on April 1 to mail two cloth masks each to all 50 million households in Japan amid dire shortage of masks. The faulty masks were the latest embarrassment for Abe’s government already criticized for its virus measures inadequate, off-target, too little and too late. The ministry said it has urged mask makers to resolve the contamination problem, while asking municipal officials to visually inspect the masks before mailing them.
Japan's health ministry reported more than 500 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total reported cases to 10,361 and 161 reported deaths. The actual number of infections is believed to be higher as Japan is only just starting to expand its testing capabilities.
Florida officials say 302 long-term care facilities have virus patients
The Florida Department of Health on Saturday night released a list of long-term care facilities that have reported coronavirus patients.
It includes 302 facilities with at least one patient in 45 counties across the state. It was published on the department's website at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said Saturday afternoon that 1,627 residents and staff in long-term care facilities tested positive. Health officials said 162 of them have died.
The release of the list represented a change of heart for DeSantis and state officials, who had previously resisted revealing which facilities in a state known for its retirees had been impacted by spread of the virus.
The total number of Florida cases, including 692 nonresidents, was 25,269 Saturday, the health department said.