A woman arrives by ambulance to Wyckoff Hospital in New York recently. AFP
Confirmed coronavirus cases have now topped three million worldwide, as hard-hit France and Spain were on Tuesday set to detail their exit strategies from lockdowns imposed to stem the spread of the deadly disease.
As countries begin to chart their path out of shutdowns, US President Donald Trump said the devastating pandemic could have been "stopped at the source" by China, suggesting the United States may seek damages.
More than 209,000 people have been killed around the world by COVID-19, a quarter of them in the US.
"We are not happy with China... we believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn't have spread all over the world," Trump said of the disease that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
The three-million figure probably reflects only a fraction of the actual number of infections, as many countries are testing only the most serious cases.
When asked about a German newspaper editorial that called on China to pay Germany $165 billion in reparations for economic damage done by the virus, Trump said the US could take its own action to hold China accountable.
"We are talking about a lot more money than Germany's talking about," he said. "We haven't determined the final amount yet. It's very substantial."
Forecasts warn of the worst global recession in a century, with oil prices tumbling and the travel and tourism sector badly hammered.
For parts of the US, the lockdown has begun to ease -- despite criticism from health experts -- much to the delight of some citizens.
"We need human touch, human contact," said 64-year-old Kim Kaseta, as she tucked into breakfast in the US state of Georgia.
Lizarda Guimaraes (left) arrives for self-isolation amid coronavirus in Brasilia, Brazil, on Thursday. AP
With a handful of US states taking steps to revive their shuttered economies, schools and shops in some parts of Europe also opened up as the rate of people dying slowed in the worst-hit European nations.
Italy -- the first European country to go into lockdown seven weeks ago -- began allowing some construction and factory workers to go back to work on Monday.
From next week, Italians will be able to exercise outdoors and visit relatives -- but only if they wear masks and refrain from hugs and handshakes.
Spain has already begun easing its tight lockdown and was set to announce more detailed plans on Tuesday, as was France, which has said it will begin to ease confinement on May 11.
Florists, dentists and others went back to work in Switzerland in the first stage of a three-phase plan.
"I'm delighted that we're starting up again. If we don't work, things are dead," Geneva hairdresser Anita Ayma said.
But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who emerged from his own battle with the virus, called for patience in the UK, saying it was too early to follow suit.
Looking thinner and with his blond hair longer after his hospital stay, the 55-year-old said he could not "throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak."
With a total of 75,011 deaths from 909,673 infections, Europe is the hardest-hit continent in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 109,133 people worldwide. Europe's most affected country is Italy with 19,468 deaths, followed by Spain with 16,972, France with 13,832 and Britain with 9,875.
COVID-19 fatalities mounted in the United States and hard-hit Western Europe countries, but fresh data on rising infections and deaths in Africa showed the virus is leaving no continent uscathed in its global march.
A total of 350,196 deaths have been reported, from 5,589,389 cases, including 173,713 in Europe from 2,057,414 infections. The United States has registered the most deaths of any country, 98,929, ahead of Britain with 37,048, Italy with 32,955, France with 28,530 and Spain with 27,117.
Afghan government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Monday that special forces had arrested the person responsible for the embassy attack. "This person is a citizen of a foreign country and a member of Daesh," he said.
The Bharatiya janata Party (BJP) looks all set to form the government in Gujarat for a record seventh time, according a slew of exit polls released on Thursday.
The three teachers, all in their 30s, reportedly told investigators that their treatment of the toddlers was "discipline,” while the director said he had the document signed only to protect privacy of those involved and denied trying to cover up the abuses.