Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 3,405, surpassing the 3,245 fatalities reported in China.
The death toll rose by 14.3 per cent from Wednesday, the Italian Civil Protection Agency says in its daily bulletin, also reporting a 14.9-per-cent hike in the total number of contagions, to 41,035.
Recoveries are up by 10.3 per cent to 4,440, while the number of intensive care patients – a closely watched figure given the shortage of hospital beds – has risen by 10.7 per cent, to 2,498.
Lombardy, which surrounds Milan, remains the region worst hit by the outbreak, with nearly 20,000 cases and 2,168 deaths.
Lazio, the region that includes Rome, reports 823 cases and 38 deaths.
Meanwhile, the United States (U.S.), on Thursday, approved a malaria drug, chloroquine, for the treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
President Donald Trump said at a Coronavirus Task Force news conference that the drug could help with symptoms of COVID-19.
According to him, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is fast-tracking approval of using the drug chloroquine to treat COVID-19.
“It is known as a malaria drug and it’s been around for a long time and it’s very powerful.
“The nice part is, it’s being around for a long time, and so we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.”
Trump praised the FDA for fast-tracking approval of the COVID-19 treatment.
“Normally, the FDA would take a long time to approve something like that and it was approved very, very quickly,” Trump said.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”
A World Health Organisation (WHO) official, on Thursday, warned that African countries could be hit harder by the new coronavirus when winter arrives later this year,
Seasonal flu normally hits southern and eastern Africa when temperatures drop, suggesting the rate of coronavirus transmissions would also increase, WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, told journalists.
The coldest months in the region are usually July and August.
But Moeti also cautioned that the coronavirus, which results in the respiratory disease Covid-19, is new and that experts are still trying to understand its behaviour.
For weeks, Africa was largely spared from the pandemic, but more than 600 coronavirus cases have now been reported across 35 of the continent’s 54 countries.
There are concerns that weaker national health systems in Africa will be quickly overwhelmed by the outbreak.
Moeti pointed to the risks posed by shortages of hospital equipment and medical specialists, as well as the high rates of HIV, which compromised patients’ immune systems.
On Thursday, Chad became the latest African nation to report its first case of coronavirus.
The patient is a Moroccan national who travelled to Chad from Cameroon, senior official Kalzeube Payimi Deubet said in a statement.
The country closed its airports on Wednesday and instituted health controls at its borders.
The island of Mauritius, a popular tourist destination in the Indian Ocean, also began shutting down on Thursday after recording its first cases.
Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth announced a 15-day ban on all arrivals to the island’s airport from Thursday, with cruise ships also banned from docking there.
The island’s cases are Mauritian nationals aged 21, 25 and 59, who recently returned to the island from abroad.
Two worked on cruise ships and one is from Britain, the government said in a statement.
Many African countries have implemented restrictions in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, including nations that have not yet had any cases, such as Uganda and Lesotho.
“We must do everything possible to ensure that this enemy does not come here,’’ Ugandan Presiden,t Yoweri Museveni said late Tuesday as he announced schools would be closed and religious services suspended for a month.
Moeti raised concerns that border closures would prevent experts and commodities from entering and called for discussions over the creation of humanitarian corridors.
In South Africa, now one of the continent’s coronavirus hotspots, the number of cases rose to 150 on Thursday, though no deaths had yet been reported.
Elsewhere, virus-related deaths have been reported in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan.
Algeria reported 10 new cases on Thursday and two deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 82, with eight fatalities, according to news agency APS.
In Congo, which has so far reported 14 cases, Economy Minister, Acacia Bandubola was reported to have tested positive for the virus, shortly after attending meetings with the president, prime minister and ministerial council.
She developed a fever during a crisis meeting at the prime minister’s office, the national broadcaster RTNC said. Bandubola returned from a trip to France on March 10.