The US has confirmed the highest number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the world amid more than 500,000 infections.
The United States has recorded a total death toll of 20,071, surpassing Italy’s death toll of 19,468.
Cases in the US topped 522,000 on Saturday.
Spain, the European country with the most reported coronavirus infections, has confirmed 510 new deaths, the lowest daily toll since March 23, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
The worldwide death toll is now more than 107,000, with the number of infections worldwide topping 1.7 million, including more than 396,000 recovered patients.
Here are the latest updates.
It has been one month since the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Click here to read about the five important developments that happened over the past month.
The Pentagon said it is using its authority under the Defense Production Act to boost the supply of N95 masks.
The American military will spend $133m to increase US domestic N95 mask production by over 39 million over the next 90 days, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews said in a statement.
This is the first time the Pentagon is using the Korean War-era law to address coronavirus needs after it won approval late on Friday from a White House taskforce.
The US surpassed Italy for the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the world, reporting 20,071 fatalities, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The grim milestone was reached as the country reported more than 500,000 cases and President Donald Trump mulled over when the country may see a return to normality.
Read more here.
Governments pledge trillions of dollars to keep economies afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic but how will we repay these massive bailouts?
Watch our episode of Inside Story here:
The United Kingdom launched a campaign to help domestic violence victims during the lockdown following an increase in the number of people seeking assistance.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government will bolster online support services and hotlines for domestic violence and launched a national communications campaign that aims to “signpost victims” to where they can access help.
Patel noted that last week the UK’s national domestic violence hotline reported a 120 percent increase in the number of calls it received in 24 hours.
Tensions rise in Tunisia as people struggle to cope with hunger and unemployment amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Read about it here.
France reported a lower daily death toll, declaring a “plateau” was reached, albeit at a very high level.
Top French health official Jerome Salomon said 353 more people had died in hospitals and 290 in nursing homes, bringing the total death toll to 13,832.
A day earlier, 554 had died in hospitals and 433 in nursing homes.
“A very high plateau for the epidemic appears to have been reached but the epidemic remains very active,” he told reporters. “We must absolutely remain vigilant.”
The US recorded a total death toll of 19,882, surpassing Italy in the number of fatalities from the coronavirus.
Italy has a total death toll of 19,468.
With more than 514,000 confirmed cases, the US has the highest number of coronavirus infections in the world.
In the hardest-hit state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said 783 more people died, raising the total number of deaths in the state to 8,600.
Italy recorded 619 more deaths in a day, bringing the country’s total death toll to 19,468.
The total number of infections in Italy surpassed 150,000, the Italian Civil Protection Agency reported.
A WHO official urged Belarus to impose new measures to contain the coronavirus, concerned that the outbreak has entered a worrying “new phase” in the country.
Patrick O’Connor, who led a WHO delegation on a visit to Belarus this week said the virus had begun spreading through communities in the capital Minsk and in other parts of the country.
“Belarus is entering a new phase in the evolution of the outbreak,” he told a news conference in Minsk.
Belarus has so far recorded 2,226 cases and 23 coronavirus-related deaths.
Canada confirmed 1,316 new coronavirus cases, raising the total toll to 22,559, according to data by the country’s Public Health Agency.
It recorded 69 more deaths, taking the total death toll to 600.
The fight against the coronavirus is a marathon, not a sprint, and lifting the lockdown may involve drugs and not just vaccines, Stephen Powis, the medical director of the UK’s National Health Service said.
“There is no magical solution that doesn’t require difficult decisions,” Powis said. “This was never going to be a sprint over a few weeks; this is going to be longer, it is going to be a marathon.”
Turkey recorded 95 deaths, raising the total death toll to 1,101 with 5,138 new coronavirus cases confirmed, according to Turkey’s health minister.
Turkey’s total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 52,167.
Paedophiles are seeking to exploit the fact that children are increasingly going online to meet friends and do school lessons on their computers during the coronavirus crisis, UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was sorry if health workers felt there had been failings to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to the front line.
Doctors and nurses have complained that there have been PPE shortages for frontline staff and when asked directly if she would apologise for this, Patel said. “I am sorry if people feel there have been failings.”
“It is inevitable that the demand and pressures on PPE and the demand for PPE are going to be exponential, they are going to be incredibly high,” she said.
The US became the first country to report more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths in a day.
It recorded 2,108 deaths, pushing the total death toll to 18,781. The US will soon overtake Italy, which has a death toll of 18,849.
Cases in the US surpassed 501,000.
The Dutch government issued a call for proposals to develop smartphone apps or software that could be used to battle the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement, the health ministry announced it was looking for proposals on how to conduct “contract tracing” of people who may have been exposed to the virus while maintaining individual privacy.
The deadline is noon on April 14.
Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 191 new coronavirus cases, increasing the total number of infections to 2,299.
The UK recorded 917 deaths in the last 24 hours, authorities said, raising the total death toll to 9,875.
“269,598 people have been tested of which 78,991 tested positive,” the Department of Health reported.
Read more here.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
De Blasio ordered public schools closed from March 16 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with an initial goal of reopening by April 20. But he said it soon became clear that goal was unrealistic as New York City has emerged as a major coronavirus hotspot.
A vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready by September, Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University told the Times newspaper.
Gilbert’s team is one of the many worldwide working on a vaccine. She told the newspaper she is “80 percent” certain the vaccine her team is developing could be effective and could possibly be ready by September.
Scientists have previously said a coronavirus vaccine would likely take 12 to 18 months.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making “very good progress” in his recovery from COVID-19, his office has said.
Johnson was moved out of intensive care after three nights on Thursday and Downing Street said on Friday he had managed to start walking, although his recovery was at an early stage.
“The prime minister continues to make very good progress,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 1,316 on Saturday to 24,413, health authorities said, with 132 new deaths.
The country’s cumulative death toll is 2,643, the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in its daily update.
Austria’s state rail operator OBB is putting up to 10,000 workers, about a quarter of its staff, on short-time work due to the coronavirus, radio station ORF has reported.
“Short-time working has started with OBB as of April 1, while corresponding agreements between the works council and the management of the respective companies are in progress or have been concluded,” an OBB spokesman told Reuters news agency.
The number of 10,000 workers going into short-time work is a preliminary estimate, he said. The spokesman said the measures had been introduced because of a massive reduction in passenger numbers since the coronavirus outbreak.
The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 831, the country’s public health ministry has said, rising from 805 people on Friday.
The number of confirmed cases also increased to 24,900 from 24,308, it said.
Belarus is the only country in Europe still playing football amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a growing number of fans are boycotting league matches, anxious about catching the infection.
The Belarus football federation initially explained its decision to continue because only a small number of coronavirus cases had been recorded in the eastern European country, but more recently they have declined comment. Belarus has reported 2,226 cases, with 23 deaths.
Armenia has extended by another 30 days the state of emergency it declared last month to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has so far infected nearly 1,000 people.
Armenia has closed educational institutions, halted all public transportation and barred foreigners from entering. The former Soviet country, which has a population of three million, has also said it will postpone a referendum on changes to the Constitutional Court until after the emergency.
The decision to extend the state of emergency, announced by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, is expected to be formally approved by parliament next week. Pashinyan said certain business activities, including fishing, agriculture and cigarette production, would still be allowed despite the state of emergency. The country has recorded 966 infections, with 13 deaths.
Iran’s total death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak has risen to 4,357, with 125 people having lost their lives in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.
The total number of people diagnosed with the disease rose by 1,837 in the past 24 hours to a total of 70,029, ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpur said on state TV, with 3,987 of those infected in critical condition.
Iran is the country most affected by the pandemic in the Middle East.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to extend a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the Delhi state’s chief minister has said, without saying how long the extension would be for.
Modi earlier in the day held a video conference call with several state ministers. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Modi had “taken [a] correct decision to extend [the] lockdown”, without sharing further details.
“If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is imp [important] to extend it,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
India’s 21-day lockdown ends on Tuesday but several states had urged Modi to extend it, even as concerns have risen that the shutdown has put millions of poor people out of work and forced an exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages.
The WHO has said 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 new coronavirus had tested positive again. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus may have been “reactivated” rather than the patients being re-infected.
The Geneva-based WHO, asked about the report from Seoul, told Reuters news agency 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 said.
Ten people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at one of the worker camps located next to the giant Tengiz oilfield in Kazakhstan, the Kazakh authorities have said.
The Chevron-led consortium operating Tengiz, the Central Asian nation’s number one oil producer, was not immediately available for comment on Saturday. However, the company, Tengizchevroil, said this week it had taken measures to ensure the safety of workers on the site and avoid output disruptions.
Tengizchevroil made the comment in an email to Reuters news agency on April 9 after the first case was confirmed at a 2,000-bed camp in the so-called rotational village where workers of the company and its contractors stay during their weeks-long shifts. On Saturday, the Kazakh government said that after tracing the contacts of the first infected person, nine more people have been diagnosed with the same disease.
According to the consortium, the camp has been locked down and workers can enter the Tengiz field itself only after being quarantined for 14 days.
Spain, the European country with the most reported coronavirus infections, has confirmed 510 new deaths, the lowest daily toll since March 23.
The death toll in Spain now stands at 16,353, while the country on Saturday added 4,830 new cases, continuing a downward trend and bringing the country’s total to 161,852 cases.
The Philippines has reported 26 more coronavirus-related deaths, taking the total to 247.
It also confirmed 233 new infections for a tally of 4,428. Seventeen more patients have recovered, the health ministry said in a bulletin, bringing the number of recoveries to 157.
Malaysian health authorities have reported 184 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, raising the cumulative tally to 4,530, the highest number for any country in Southeast Asia.
The latest data includes three more deaths, raising total fatalities from the outbreak to 73.
The ministry said 44 percent of all confirmed cases have recovered.
Indonesia has confirmed 330 new coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 3,842, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.
It also confirmed 21 virus-related deaths, taking the total to 327, Yurianto told a televised news conference.
Tension has flared again as Taiwan accused the WHO of playing word games in a dispute over details it sought in an email querying if the new coronavirus could be transmitted between people.
Last month, Taiwan, who is blocked from membership in international organisations by China, said it had received no reply from the WHO to a December 31 query for information on the outbreak in Wuhan, including whether it could be transmitted between people.
In Taipei on Saturday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung quoted the text of the December 31 email written in English that the government sent to the WHO asking for the organisation to share “relevant information” about atypical cases of pneumonia reported in Wuhan.
In a statement sent to Reuters news agency on Saturday, the WHO said, “We have asked how they communicated this to us, because we are only aware of that one email that makes no mention of human-to-human transmission, but they haven’t replied.”
President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to respect health protocols as “low-risk” economic activities resumed in most of the country on Saturday, state news agency IRNA reported.
So-called low-risk businesses will resume across the country from Saturday with the exception of the capital Tehran, where they will restart from April 18. Iran is the Middle Eastern country worst-affected by the new coronavirus.
“Easing restrictions does not mean ignoring health protocols … social distancing and other health protocols should be respected seriously by people,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabeie was also quoted as saying that “in case of long-term shutdown, some 4 million people could be out of work”, IRNA reported.
Russia has reported 1,667 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally of confirmed cases to 13,584.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in the country rose by 12 to 106, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for citizens across Japan to avoid evening spots like bars and restaurants, national broadcaster NHK reported, in a ratcheting of social distancing guidance to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The nationwide call for citizens to stay home in the evenings follows the declaration of a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures last week.
Abe has been gradually tightening guidance, seeking to lessen the impact on the economy as it is hammered by the pandemic, leading to criticism that he has been too slow to act and risks having the virus spread out of control. Tokyo, the current centre of Japan’s coronavirus outbreak, identified more than 190 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, topping Friday’s record high of 189 cases, NHK said.
Publicly-funded US broadcaster Voice of America has pushed back on criticism from the White House that it is promoting Chinese “foreign propaganda” on the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on Friday, President Donald Trump’s administration claimed VOA pushed Beijing’s message by tweeting a video of celebrations at the end of Wuhan’s quarantine measures, and noting the US had surpassed China’s death toll.
VOA director Amanda Bennet pushed back at the criticism – while not mentioning the Trump administration – noting that the broadcaster had reported on China’s efforts to initially hide the coronavirus outbreak.
“VOA has thoroughly debunked much of the information coming from the Chinese government and government-controlled media,” she said in a statement.
In South Asia’s latest moves to curb the coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh has extended its nationwide lockdown by 11 days while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks on Saturday with states to decide whether to extend its own stringent restrictions beyond next week.
In Bangladesh, the army has been deployed across the country to enforce social distancing measures. The government late on Friday extended the nationwide lockdown to April 25 as the number of confirmed cases rose to 424, with 27 deaths.
India began a national lockdown on March 25.
Brazil, the hardest-hit Latin American country in the coronavirus pandemic, has passed the mark of 1,000 deaths, the health ministry said.
The ministry’s latest figures gave a toll of 19,638 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,056 deaths – one fewer than it had indicated in an initial tally earlier in the day on Friday.
Health officials are bracing for things to get worse. Experts predict the outbreak will only start to peak in Brazil toward late April.
Pakistan’s death toll from the new coronavirus has risen to 71 after five more patients lost their lives in the last 24 hours, health authorities have said.
The total number of confirmed cases surged to 4,788 with 190 new cases reported, according to the Health Ministry. The ministry said 50 of patients are in critical condition, while 762 people recovered across the country. The northeastern Punjab province, which accounts for more than half of the country’s population, is the worst-hit area in Pakistan with 2,336 cases.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has once again caused a stir by disregarding his government’s own recommendations on social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo tweeted a video showing his father visiting a bakery in the capital Brasilia on Thursday evening.
In the video, the right-wing president can be seen eating, drinking and being photographed with several people standing right next to him. While some of those in the film are wearing face masks, Bolsonaro is not.
Under local restrictions to stem the pandemic, bakeries in the capital are currently only allowed to sell their products for take-out, the news portal G1 said.
Africans in southern China’s largest city say they have become targets of suspicion and subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass coronavirus testing as the country steps up its fight against imported infections.
China says it has largely curbed its COVID-19 outbreak but a recent cluster of cases linked to the Nigerian community in Guangzhou sparked the alleged discrimination by locals and virus prevention officials.
Local authorities in the industrial centre of 15 million said at least eight people diagnosed with the illness had spent time in the city’s Yuexiu district, known as “Little Africa”. Five were Nigerian nationals who faced widespread anger after reports surfaced that they had broken a mandatory quarantine and been to eight restaurants and other public places instead of staying home.
As a result, nearly 2,000 people they came into contact with had to be tested for COVID-19 or undergo quarantine, state media said. Several Africans told the AFP news agency they had since been forcibly evicted from their homes and turned away by hotels.
“I’ve been sleeping under the bridge for four days with no food to eat… I cannot buy food anywhere, no shops or restaurants will serve me,” said Tony Mathias, an exchange student from Uganda who was forced from his apartment on Monday. “We’re like beggars on the street.”
It used to be a vast complex of illegally built apartment blocks and holiday homes on the Mediterranean, today, Castel Volturno is a run-down no-man’s-land in the southern Campania region.
The town counts about 25,000 inhabitants, of whom 5,000 are registered migrants, and an estimated 15,000 are undocumented, mostly hailing from West African countries including Nigeria and Ghana, say officials.
Aid group representatives operating here have joined the town’s mayor in warning about a “ticking bomb” and a “bubble of desperation” ready to burst as people now under lockdown are prevented from earning their usual daily living.
Without a solid assistance programme, the population here risks falling victim to hunger due to the virus.
Read more here.
Florida’s largest nursing home organisation has a sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis asking for sweeping protections from legal claims related to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by Buzzfeed news.
In a letter to the governor, the industry group’s executive director wrote that in order for nursing homes and healthcare workers to provide the best care, “it is imperative that health care facilities and health care professionals are protected from liability that may result from treating individuals with COVID-19 under the conditions associated with this public health emergency”.
The request is one of the first of its kind in the US, according to the news site.
The old adage insists that, in entertainment circles, “the show must go on”. But what if it cannot?
It is a quandary facing many entertainers as padlocks are put on stadium gates, stage doors, and movie house entrances because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ban on large public gatherings in the interest of physical distancing has decimated the industry, including the US’s pro-wrestling scene.
Kaci Lennox, an up-and-coming talent who performs in wrestling shows across Florida, is feeling the pain first-hand.
The 27-year-old told Al Jazeera: “A lot of us depend on wrestling to pay our bills. Some people just don’t have money saved up.”
Read more here.
Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways and VietJet Air will resume domestic flights from Thursday after the expiry of a government order for 15 days of physical distancing, the companies said.
From late March, Vietnam ordered curbs on domestic flights and adopted physical distancing nationwide to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 257 people, although none have died.
“The Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route will be resumed from April 16, while other routes will be back to operation from April 20,” Bamboo Airways said in a statement.
Budget carrier VietJet Air also announced it was resuming flying on domestic routes from Thursday but advised customers it had only an expected schedule that may be subject to change.
In a controversial step, South Korea’s government has announced that it will strap electronic wristbands on people who defy self-quarantine orders as it tightens monitoring to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho on Saturday acknowledged the privacy and civil liberty concerns surrounding the bands, which will be enforced through police and local administrative officials after two weeks of preparation and manufacturing, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reported.
But he said authorities need more effective monitoring tools because the number of people placed under self-quarantine has ballooned after the country began enforcing 14-day quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad on April 1 amid worsening outbreaks in Europe and the US.
Thailand has announced two new coronavirus-linked deaths, bringing to 35 the total number of deaths in the country.
The government also said that 45 new cases have been detected, making the total number of cases 2,518, of which 1,135 have been discharged.
California’s top public health official has said for the first time that the coronavirus might not be as devastating as state officials had feared, and Governor Gavin Newsom revealed his administration is now planning for how to reopen the state, AP reported.
But with Easter Sunday and sunny weather on the horizon, Newsom implored people to stay away from others to not undo the significant progress under his stay-at-home order. Across California, local government officials closed streets, parks and other public spaces to deter people from gathering.
Uruguay has started to repatriate 112 Australians and New Zealanders from a cruise ship hit by coronavirus and stranded in the La Plata River near the capital, Montevideo, since March 27, the government said.
The operation began in the evening when the Greg Mortimer, an Antarctic cruise ship operated by Aurora Expeditions, docked in the port of Montevideo.
The passengers are scheduled to board a Melbourne-bound charter flight in the early hours of Saturday. Two Australian passengers could not be transported because of their poor condition, Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi said.
Coronavirus deaths in the US state of New York jumped by 777 in one day, as the number of people hospitalised stayed relatively flat, according to AP.
More than 3,000 deaths have been recorded since Monday, bringing the statewide count to 7,844.
The number of hospitalisations increased by 290, compared to daily increases of more than 1,000 last week. The number of intensive care patients also decreased slightly for the first time since mid-March.
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno has announced the creation of a humanitarian assistance account that will be funded with contributions from companies and citizens to address the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic hit us at a critical moment, when we were trying to get ahead after a very tough economic crisis,” Moreno added in a televised speech. “It hit us without a cent in the state’s accounts.”
Ecuador reported more than 2,196 new infections in one day on Friday, raising the total number to 7,161. Some 297 people have died, and another 311 were likely killed by the virus, according to official data.
US President Donald Trump has ordered top US administration officials to help Italy in fighting coronavirus by providing medical supplies, humanitarian relief and other assistance.
In a memo to several Cabinet ministers, Trump ordered a variety of measures, including making US military personnel in the country available for telemedicine services, helping set up field hospitals, and transporting supplies, according to Reuters news agency.
Mainland China reported on Saturday 46 new coronavirus cases, including 42 involving travellers from overseas, up from 42 cases a day earlier.
China’s National Health Commission said in a statement that 34 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases had also been reported, down from 47 the previous day.
Mainland China’s tally of infections now stands at 81,953, while the death toll rose by three, to 3,339, according to the Reuters news agency report.
Turkey’s president has sent a letter to Boris Johnson, wishing the British prime minister a speedy recovery from the coronavirus, AP reported.
In his letter, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also conveyed his condolences to the families of British victims of the virus, expressed hope that Britain overcomes the “tragedy with the minimal losses” and relayed his good wishes to British health service employees treating COVID-19 patients.
Erdogan also invited Johnson, whose great-grandfather was Turkish, to visit “the land of your ancestors” to discuss “steps that will further our bilateral cooperation in the post-Brexit period”.
Argentina will extend the lockdown it has imposed on the country’s major cities, President Alberto Fernandez has announced.
He did not specify when the lockdown, which was first mandated on March 20, would be lifted. He said the requirement that Argentines stay at home has helped control the rate of new coronavirus infections, Reuters news agency reported.
The WHO’s emergencies chief says the agency is aware of some anecdotal reports of neurological effects in some coronavirus patients from China.
But Dr Mike Ryan said it is unclear whether the virus is directly affecting the brain or whether those neurological effects may be due to oxygen deprivation.
Ryan said while some viruses cause complications like encephalitis and meningitis when they infect the brain, there is no indication yet that this is the case with COVID-19 patients, adding that many infectious diseases can prompt deliriousness or a change in consciousness when patients’ oxygen levels drop, but giving more oxygen often resolves the issue.
Hundreds of staff at a hospital near the Spanish capital have gathered to pay homage to a 57-year-old nurse who died Friday after contracting COVID-19, AP reported.
In a post on social media, the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes said the nurse died “after days of fighting relentlessly against the illness”.
The post identified the victim by his first name, Esteban, and said his widow also worked at the hospital, one of the main battlegrounds against the coronavirus.
Pope Francis entered a torch-lit, hauntingly empty Saint Peter’s Square for a Good Friday procession under a lockdown caused by a coronavirus that has claimed 100,000 lives worldwide.
The Argentine-born pontiff walked up to his podium flanked by five prison inmates from the hard-hit northern Italian city of Padua and five Vatican doctors and nurses.
Their presence was a tribute to the victims of a disease that has officially claimed nearly 19,000 lives in Italy.
Earlier, Francis had said that medics and priests who died after becoming infected while looking after COVID-19 victims “gave their lives out of love, like soldiers at the front”.
I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Read all the updates from yesterday (April 10) here.