Brazil medical workers coronavirus
Healthcare workers wearing protective face masks pay tribute to their co-workers that have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and protest against the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) in front of the 28 de Agosto hospital in Manaus, Brazil April 27, 2020. The signs read: "Miss you." Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson got back to work on Monday after being hospitalised with the coronavirus, and immediately said that it was too early to relax restrictions in the UK.

Nearly 3 million people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and about 206,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

The United States has the most deaths of any country with 54,877 fatalities.

Johnson compared the disease to a street criminal that the British people had wrestled to the floor and said he understood the concerns of business.

But elsewhere, countries were taking baby steps to open up the economy after seeing positive signs from the lockdown.

EU denies bowing to Chinese pressure

The European Union (EU) on Monday denied bowing to Chinese pressure to water down a report on coronavirus disinformation to soften criticism of Beijing.

The New York Times said that, under pressure from Beijing officials, the EU had delayed publication of a regular report on disinformation trends last week, and toned down the final version.

A spokesman for the EU's diplomatic service, Peter Stano, insisted no changes had been made as a result of outside influence.

Russia coronavirus
Ambulances queue before driving onto the territory of Pokrovskaya hospital amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Saint Petersburg, Russia April 27, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

New Zealand victory

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday claimed the country had scored a significant victory against the spread of the coronavirus, as the country began a phased exit from lockdown.

“There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand,” Ardern declared. “We have won that battle.”

After nearly five weeks at the maximum Level Four restrictions - with only essential services operating - the country will move to Level Three late on Monday.

That will allow some businesses, takeaway food outlets and schools to reopen.

Easing lockdown

Many countries are looking to ease lockdowns as rates of infections fall and fears of economic ruin rise.

Italy, which has the world's third highest rate of coronavirus deaths at more than 26,000, will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe's longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday.

Italy is looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a new wave of infections.

In Norway, school children from first to fourth grades returned to schools for the first time since mid-March, while a range of small businesses, including hairdressers, were allowed to open.

In Spain, one of the worst-hit countries, children went outside on Sunday, emerging from their homes for the first time after six weeks of living under one of Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

Croatia began easing curbs on Monday, allowing smaller shops, libraries and museums to reopen. Serbia allowed small businesses and food markets to open their shutters, eased an overnight curfew and allowed elderly to venture outside three times a week.

Romania said it would not extend the current state of emergency past May 15, when people will be able to move around with documentation.

No cases in Wuhan

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated in December, now has no remaining cases in its hospitals, a health official said. The city is still testing residents regularly despite relaxing its lockdown.

Russia overtook China in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday when its tally climbed above 87,000, as pressure rose on the government to consider easing lockdown restrictions for businesses to help shore up the rattled economy.

Russia has been on lockdown since President Vladimir Putin announced the closure of most public spaces on March 25. These measures are due to expire on April 30 and Putin has not yet said if he plans to extend them.

Australians download app

In Australia, nearly two million Australians rushed to download an app designed to help medical workers and state governments trace close contacts of COVID-19 patients.

Australia has been one of the most successful countries in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, recording just 83 deaths and 6,700 cases, because of border closures, movement restrictions and a stay-at-home policy.

- with inputs from Reuters and AFP