50 Dead, 60 Wounded After Venezuela Prison Uprising: Live Updates

Summary:

  • Italy sees 76% surge in new COVID-19 deaths as single-day total hits 11-day high

  • New York sees first rebound in deaths since April 25th.

  • 12.3% of New York state tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies

  • Spain allows outdoor exercise

  • Russia reports another record jump in cases

  • Video shows Mexican hospitals hiding bodies of COVID-19 patients as hallways packed with the sick

  • More EU countries back plan to waive law requiring airlines give cash refunds

  • IMF lends another $642 million to Ecuador as coronavirus ravages country

  • France extends state of emergency order until July 24

  • Singapore eases some lockdown measures as domestic cases decline

  • US case total tops 1.1 million

  • Japan joins US in fast-tracking remdesivir

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Update (1725ET): In what has been a relatively quiet day for virus news, South American newspapers are reporting on a prison riot in Venezuela that has left almost 50 prisoners dead. The riot reportedly started on Friday, according to local newspaper Ultimas Noticias and Reuters.

Prison riots have occurred in Italy, China and elsewhere as prisoners, forced to live in crowded conditions, rebel over prohibitions against visitors while outbreaks are virtually left unchecked.

Opposition lawmakers reportedly blamed the riots on new rules banning visitors from bringing food for the inmates. The riot took place at Los Llanos Penitentiary Center in Guanare in the western state of Portuguesa.

To date, Venezuela has confirmed 335 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths from the virus, but the outbreak is believed to be much more widespread. And the further plunge in oil prices caused by the outbreak has only exacerbated one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

At least  46 prisoners are believed to have died, along with another 60 who were injured, many seriously.

In a local media interview, Prisons Minister Iris Varela said the riot resulted from an escape attempt. On twitter, local accounts claimed guns and grenades were used by the prisoners, and that the Warden of the prison had been shot and badly wounded.

The Venezuela Prisons Observatory posted photos of what appeared to be bodies lying on a blood-stained concrete patio.

It said there were 2,500 prisoners in the jail, which is designed to hold 750.

 

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Update (1325ET): As Italy and Spain continue to tiptoe toward reopening, France has decided to take a U-turn and extend its "State of Emergency" - an order that undergirds the strict legally-enforced lockdown in France - until July 24, an unprecedented two-month extension that will almost certainly infuriate thousands of French citizens.

Though, to be sure, fear of the virus runs deep in France, just like it does in Italy and Spain where many residents - especially the vulnerable - express trepidation about reopening. But French Health Minister Olivier Véran said Saturday that the a bill to extend the deadline will be put to France's parliament on Monday.

"We are going to have to live with the virus for a while," Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said after a cabinet meeting.

Travellers to France, including French citizens returning home, will face a compulsory two-week quarantine and possible isolation when they arrive in the country to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the health minister said.

Véran said the duration and conditions of the quarantine would be defined in a decree to be published. Decisions to isolate people would be scrutinised by judges to ensure they are justified and fair, he added.

To be sure, France is still planning on easing some conditions on May 11, and then some more on May 17. But some measures - like ensuring restaurants and retailers don't allow the number of customers to reach full capacity - will likely persist for a couple more months, according to France 24.

President Macron said Friday during a 'May Day' address that the French people shouldn't expect life to go back to normal immediately after the first restrictions are lifted on May 11.

Norway recently announced plans to extend a ban on large gatherings through the summer until summer, and many officials, including NYC Mayor de Blasio and NY Gov. Cuomo have warned that concerts, shows and music festivals might not return for some time.

In other news, Reuters reports that Germany, Italy and Spain have joined a call by 12 EU governments to suspend rules requiring airlines to offer full cash refunds as more airlines - including Ryanair -  implement mass layoffs or file for bankruptcy.

"I’m glad a very large majority of member states are supporting my request to authorise airlines and maritime groups to temporarily use vouchers when trips are cancelled, so as to relieve their cash reserves while protecting passengers’ rights to a refund," French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told Reuters in a statement.

Finally, the IMF said Saturday it would lend another $643 billion to Ecuador as it grapples with one of the deadliest outbreaks in the region while also struggling with the financial whiplash caused by the global drop in oil prices.

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Update (1130ET): New York suffered its first rebound (to 299) in COVID-19 deaths since April 25th. Governor Cuomo says this is "bad news"  though added optimistically that hospitalizations declined further.

Additionally, 12.3% of New York state has tested positive for novel coronavirus antibodies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing on Saturday.

As a whole, 19.9% of New York City has tested positive for antibodies, the preliminary study found. At 27.6%, the Bronx is reporting the highest rate of infection, which Cuomo said the state would further investigate.

Italy also suffered a surprise resurgence in COVID-19 deaths...adding 474, the most since April 21st.

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For the first time in seven weeks, adult Spaniards are enjoying a jog or a bike ride outdoors as PM Pedro Sanchez lifted restrictions on outdoor exercise.

Spain's death toll and case count have been trending lower (interspersed with a handful of one-day spikes) for more than two weeks. A week ago, the government lifted restrictions requiring children to remain indoors, allowing young children to leave their homes (accompanied by an adult) for the first time in a month and a half.

Spain's lockdown has been among the most strict in the world (in some ways, it approximated the lockdown faced by the tens of millions of Chinese residents of Hubei).

Of course, that remains to be seen: One of the biggest stories of the past week has been the uptick in Germany's 'infection rate' - known as "R" - which approximates the average number of people infected by an infected patient. So long as the ratio stays below 1, then the outbreak is slowing. But mid-week, Germany revealed that its 'R' rate had jumped from 0.70 to 0.96 in the week since some more shops were allowed to reopen.

However, now that people are back out and about, Spain is imposing a new restriction: the government is requiring masks to be work on all public transport as of Monday, the prime minister said earlier this week as he outlined plans to relax the lockdown.

To ensure that nobody is unable to comply, the government will hand out millions of masks to reduce the risk of contagion, Pedro Sánchez said in an address to the nation on Saturday afternoon. He pleaded with Spaniards to exercise responsibility when the next phase towards ending the lockdown begins on Monday.

Sánchez said Saturday that 6 million masks would be handed out at transport hubs, while 7 million would be handed out by local councils, and 1.5 million would be distributed by the Red Cross and other NGOs. He added that the success of Spain’s phased emergence from lockdown would depend on "social and personal responsibility," adding, "the key to the de-escalation isn’t just about personal decisions. The key will be tens of thousands of decisions taken at home, on public transport, at work, and in free time."

Spain's Health Ministry said Saturday there have been 216,582 confirmed cases of the virus in the country, and 25,100 deaths.

In Italy, concerns about the reopening are intensifying have led to deep political divisions about how the process should be conducted, as millions worry about another devastating spike in deaths.

As Spain and Italy prepare to lift all remaining restrictions, Russia is finding that its national lockdown, which was extended to mid-March last month by President Putin, might not be long, or strict, enough.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the virus has already deeply penetrated Moscow society, and spread far and wide enough to create a serious problem in the massive country of 144 million. New daily nfections in Russia have risen by 20% as officials worry that hospitals across the country - but particularly in Moscow - might be overrun.

More than 9,000 new infections were reported on Saturday, another daily record. Once again, they were mostly in Moscow, where the mayor said earlier this week that the government might establish temporary hospitals in sporting arenas or shopping centers to help manage the flow of seriously ill patients, following several other European countries, including Spain and the UK.

Russia has 124,054 confirmed cases, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who had been charged with leading the country's response. Russia's death toll stood at 1,222.

Its death toll stood at 1,222 as of Saturday morning, although many suspect that the true number of cases is likely much larger, as is the number of deaths.

Over in North America, the government of AMLO, the far-left anti-establishment leader who has been skeptical of the virus from the beginning, has just been exposed for actively trying to cover up the extent of the crisis.

In the US, the number of confirmed cases climbed to 1,104,345 as of Saturday morning, while the number of deaths hit 239,236.

And here's a rundown of where every country stands re: 'the virus curve'.

Relatives of patients burst into a Mexican hospital on Friday night and discovered bodies in bags on stretchers crammed into a room. Several of the families discovered the bodies of their loved ones, deaths that hadn't officially been reported in Mexico's numbers.

Watch the video below:

Finally, Singapore said it will start easing some of its distancing measures after reporting a drop in locally transmitted coronavirus cases. The average daily number, excluding migrant workers living in dormitories, of locally transmitted cases has dropped to 12 in the past week from 25 the week before, as the country's outbreak has been almost entirely confined to impoverished migrant workers who represent a kind of second-class caste in Singaporean society.

As more scientists question the wisdom of the US going all in on remdesivir, Japan said Saturday that it woud fasttrack a review of the antiviral drug remdesivir so that it can hopefully be approved for domestic COVID-19 patients. We suspect US investors will be watching for results of that study.