U.S. now leads the world with most deaths, Boris Johnson out of hospital

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Norma Urrabazo prays at an Easter drive-in service at the International Church of Las Vegas on April 12, 2020.
Norma Urrabazo prays at an Easter drive-in service at the International Church of Las Vegas on Sunday. John Locher / AP

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The U.S. has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths with nearly 22,000 recorded by early Monday, according to NBC News figures.

Worldwide, the death toll is more than 113,000, and the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 1.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from St. Thomas' Hospital in London and returned home Sunday, a promising sign for the Conservative leader's recovery.

To mark Easter, Pope Francis gave his annual address on Sunday to an empty basilica, calling for solidarity and prayer during these difficult times as holiday traditions have been upended in the pandemic.

In pop culture, coronavirus survivor Tom Hanks made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live," giving the opening monologue for the show's remote episode from his kitchen. SNL's current and former cast members also memorialized SNL music producer Hal Willner, who died of complications from the virus.

As unemployment continued to soar in the U.S., Former Vice President Joe Biden released a plan to reopen the American economy in a New York Times op-ed.

Mainland China reported 99 new coronavirus infections, more than doubling from the previous day to reach a one-month high, as the number of single-day imported cases hit a record, official data released Sunday showed. Almost all the new infections — the biggest daily count since March 6 — involve travelers from overseas. Just two out of the 99 cases were locally transmitted.

In addition, highlighting another major source of risk, newly reported asymptomatic coronavirus cases nearly doubled to 63, up from 34 the previous day, according to China's National Health Commission.

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U.K.'s Boris Johnson leaves hospital where he was treated for COVID-19

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left the London hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19, and returned home on Sunday, Downing Street confirmed.

A spokesperson said he would continue his recovery at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence in the county of Buckinghamshire, to the north of London.

“On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work," they said, adding that he wanted to thank everybody at London's St. Thomas Hospital where he was treated for the brilliant care he has received."

Johnson, 55, was admitted to London’s St. Thomas' Hospital on April 5 after "persistent" COVID-19 symptoms.

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Banish 'self-centredness' Pope Francis says in lonely Easter Sunday address

Pope Francis reads his "Urbi et Orbi" ("To the City and the World") message in St. Peter's Basilica on Easter with no public participation due to the coronavirus outbreak.POOL / Reuters

Pope Francis called for global solidarity on Easter in fighting the pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts.

The pope's Easter Sunday "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message was delivered from an empty St. Peter's Basilica instead of to the usual crowd of tens of thousands in the square outside. The Mass was live-streamed for those who could not attend in person.

Saying the message of this year's "Easter of solitude" should be a "contagion of hope," the pope praised doctors, nurses and others risking their lives to save others and hailed those working to keep essential services running.

"This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic," he said. "Indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words forever!"

Saudi Arabia extends curfew indefinitely

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman extended a nationwide curfew until further notice due to the spread of the virus, the interior ministry said on Sunday, after the kingdom reported more than 300 new infections on each of the last four days.

Last month Saudi Arabia imposed a nationwide curfew, and last week, it placed its capital Riyadh and other big cities under a 24-hour lockdown to stem the spread. 

The country of some 30 million has recorded 4,033 infections with 52 deaths, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states. The kingdom has also halted international flights, suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage, and closed most public places. Other Gulf states have taken similar precautions.

Libyans caught between bullets, bombs and now COVID-19, Red Cross warns

Hundreds of thousands of Libyans are caught in an intensifying conflict as COVID-19 threatens to spread and debilitate the country’s fragile health system, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a press briefing on Sunday.

The humanitarian institution fears that the virus will compound the suffering of conflict-affected families who are already struggling to meet basic needs like shelter, food, water, and medical care. Despite international calls for a ceasefire, the civil war in the country's capital of Tripoli has recently escalated forcing people to flee their homes and damaging civilian infrastructure.

“The Libyan health care system was struggling before COVID-19,” Willem de Jonge, ICRC’s head of operations for Libya, said in the statement. “Today, some medical professionals who need to be trained on COVID-19 infection prevention protocols keep being called back to the frontlines to treat the injured."

Clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed caring for war-wounded and those with chronic illnesses, so their capacity to receive COVID-19 patients is limited, he said. Libya reported its first death from the disease earlier in the month. 

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North Korea to implement stricter anti-epidemic measures: state media

Stricter and more thorough countermeasures to ensure the safety of North Korean citizens from the fast spreading pandemic will be implemented after a meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong Un state media reported on Sunday.

The Korean Central News Agency said the virus had created obstacles to work on the economy, but the North had enforced consistent and compulsory "strict top-class emergency anti-epidemic measures" to maintain a stable situation.

On Saturday, in a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a joint resolution was adopted to take “more thorough state measures for protecting life and safety of its people from the great worldwide epidemic disease,” KCNA said.

While the country has more than 500 people in quarantine, North Korean officials have claimed the country has no confirmed coronavirus cases.

Queen says 'light and life' are greater than death in first Easter message

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II insisted that "coronavirus will not overcome us," in her first ever Easter address to the nation. 

In her second message to the U.K. in a week recorded on Saturday, she said that while celebrations would be different for many this year, "We need Easter as much as ever."

Referencing the tradition of lighting candles to mark the Christian holy day, the royal added: "As dark as death can be — particularly for those suffering with grief — light and life are greater." The queen is the symbolic head of the Church of England.

The 93-year-old monarch’s message came as Britain’s death toll neared 10,000 on Sunday. 

WHO investigating reports of recovered patients testing positive again

The World Health Organization said Saturday that it was looking into reports of some COVID-19 patients testing positive again after initially testing negative for the disease while being considered for discharge.

South Korean officials on Friday reported 91 patients thought cleared of the virus had tested positive again. 

The told Reuters in a brief statement: “We are aware of these reports of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and then after some days testing positive again.

“We are closely liaising with our clinical experts and working hard to get more information on those individual cases. It is important to make sure that when samples are collected for testing on suspected patients, procedures are followed properly,” it said.

Kansas Supreme Court backs limiting church gatherings

The Kansas Supreme Court on Saturday night backed Gov. Laura Kelly's executive order limiting church gatherings to less than 10 people. The order stands.

The state's Legislative Coordinating Council voted 5-2 on Wednesday to undo the order, so the governor's office challenged the decision, bringing it before the state's highest court.

The state Supreme Court said the council did not have the power to overturn an executive order of this nature. Kelly had said social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic was a matter of "real-life consequences."

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