More countries to ease COVID-19 restrictions as global cases rise with Latin America as new epicenter
More countries in Europe and Asia began to ease restrictions and resume operations, but more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, now the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases have surpassed 6.16 million, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil on Sunday said its nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 514,849 after 16,409 people tested positive in the past 24 hours, while the death toll neared 30,000.
Its death toll rose to 29,314, the fourth highest in the global pandemic after the United States, Britain and Italy, after 480 deaths had been reported since Saturday, while another 4,208 deaths are still being investigated for any linkage with COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said.
Also on Sunday, Mexico's Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said that the country reported 3,152 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 90,664.
There were 151 new coronavirus deaths in Mexico, taking total fatalities to 9,930, Lopez-Gatell added.
Meanwhile, Chile's COVID-19 cases increased by 4,830 to reach 99,688 on Sunday.
In the past 24 hours, 57 more patients died, the highest number of fatalities in a single day so far, taking the death toll from the disease to 1,054.
A lockdown is in effect in the capital Santiago and the metropolitan area through June 5, as the region is the epicenter of the country's outbreak.
In recent weeks, Chile has seen an exponential rise in the number of cases and deaths, leading the government to set up field hospitals to deal with the growing number of patients.
Italy has now recorded fewer than 600 new cases per day for eight consecutive days, a dramatic drop from peaks of more than 6,000 new infections a day, when Italy was the epicenter of the pandemic in late March.
Recent trends show that the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically despite a gradual easing of Italy's national lockdown at a two-week interval, first on May 4 and again on May 18.
The next step toward easing will come on June 3, when Italians will be allowed to move freely between regions even if for non-essential reasons. It will be the first time such travels will be allowed since March 9, the day before the national lockdown entered into force.
Many businesses across Turkey on Sunday also prepared to resume operation for the first time after over two months of closure amid a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19.
Restaurants, cafes, parks, beaches, daycare centers, kindergartens, libraries, sports facilities, swimming pools, and museums will be operational as of June 1 as part of the new normalization process announced on May 28.
Following the announcement, the Health Ministry prepared a guide in particular for the eating and drinking industry, explaining the new rules in a detailed way.
Likewise, the Egyptian government on Sunday announced a decision to reduce its curfew from 10 hours to nine, following a meeting led by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
The government has already started gradual reopening of services and offices suspended since mid-March amid a "coexistence plan" to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.
Chairing Saturday's Downing Street daily briefing, British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said Britons will be able to exercise outside with up to five others from different households from Monday, provided that strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
He also announced that from Monday, competitive sport will be allowed behind closed doors in England, paving the way for the return of live sports on TV screens in almost three months.
The move came as some experts warned that lifting restrictions before cases come down is too "risky." Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, said that Britons need to "actually follow the guidance."