Russia has reported its highest one-day jump in new coronavirus cases as some other countries relax lockdown restrictions.
China, where the pandemic began in December, reported a single new infection on Saturday, extending a steady decline in confirmed cases.
The country has allowed factories and some other businesses to resume work, along with some tourist spots for this weekend’s May Day holiday.
Russia’s government reported 7,933 new cases on Friday, raising its total to 114,431. The true number is believed to be higher because not everyone is tested and Russian tests are reported to be only 70% to 80% accurate.
At least five Russian regions reported a surge of pneumonia cases. In Moscow, which accounts for half of all virus cases, all respiratory infections are likely to be caused by coronavirus, according to the public health agency.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced he tested positive and would temporarily stop running the cabinet. The construction minister and his deputy have also tested positive.
Also on Friday, the first drug shown to help fight the disease received emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. In a study, remdesivir shortened patients’ recovery time from 15 days to 11 on average and may have reduced deaths.
The virus has killed more than 230,000 people worldwide, including more than 64,000 in the United States and more than 20,000 each in Italy, the UK, France and Spain. Health experts warn a second wave of infections could hit unless testing is expanded dramatically.
President Donald Trump said he hopes the total number of US deaths will be below 100,000, which he acknowledged is a “horrible number”.
Models released by the White House coronavirus task force on March 29 projected deaths of 100,000 to 240,000 Americans, assuming efforts such as social distancing and staying at home as much as possible were in effect. The task force director said the worst case scenario was 1.5 million to 2.2 million US deaths without those measures.
As the crisis stabilises in some European countries and American states, governments are easing the shutdown of businesses that plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and wiped out millions of jobs.
France, Spain, Germany and other governments plan to allow factories, offices, other businesses, churches and some other public facilities to reopen gradually and under strict controls.
China has lifted blanket restrictions that kept 800 million people at home but kept in place extensive temperature checks and other monitoring.
On Friday, the former imperial palace in the Chinese capital, Beijing, reopened after a two-and-a-half-month shutdown, but the number of daily visitors was limited to 5,000, down from the usual 80,000. Photos on social media showed palace visitors wearing masks and being escorted by police.
China has reported 82,875 confirmed virus cases and 4,633 deaths.