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World coronavirus cases top six million

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Disease spreading rapidly in Latin America as other countries begin relaxing lockdown measures

BRASILIA: The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped six million yesterday, with Brazil registering another record surge in daily infections as divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.

Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.

In Brazil - the epicentre of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, behind only the US - disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who fears the economic fallout from stay-at-home measures will be worse than the virus, has berated governors and mayors for imposing what he calls "the tyranny of total quarantine".

The global death toll from the pandemic surpassed 368,000.

As the virus progresses at different speeds around the globe, there has been pressure in many countries to lift crippling lockdowns.

India said on Saturday it would begin relaxing the world's biggest lockdown in stages from early this month, even as it marked another record daily rise in infections.

It hit a record daily jump of 7,964 infections on Saturday and has so far recorded 173,763 positive cases and 4,971 deaths.

With infection numbers falling in many of Europe's most affected countries, the push to restart economies was gaining steam.

Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened on Saturday, while in Paris, parks and the famed Galeries Lafayette department store flung open their doors.

Across the Atlantic, the US capital Washington resumed outdoor dining, while on the West Coast, restaurants and hair salons in Los Angeles reopened.

New York City, the worst-hit American city with about 21,500 coronavirus deaths, is on track to begin reopening the week of June 8. The overall US death toll has topped 103,000 out of more than 1.7 million cases.

In South-east Asia, Malaysia recorded 57 cases yesterday, bringing the total number of infections to 7,819 cases.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said that out of the 57 cases, 10 were imported.

Of the 47 new cases transmitted locally, only four involved Malaysians. The other cases involved foreign workers and undocumented migrants.

Dr Noor Hisham said that 24 of the cases were detected at the immigration detention centre in Sepang while 15 cases involving three clusters were detected in Pahang.

The country saw no Covid-19 deaths for the ninth consecutive day, keeping the death toll at 115.

In Thailand, Parliament passed a 1.9 trillion baht (S$84 billion) economic support package yesterday to ease the impact of the coronavirus.

The latest steps follow billions of dollars of stimulus measures introduced earlier this year. Thailand reported four new cases yesterday. It has confirmed 3,081 cases and 57 deaths. - AFP, THE STAR, REUTERS

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