By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose to 4.8 million on Monday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would support an international investigation of the origins of the pandemic led by the World Health Organization, as soon as the crisis has been brought under control.
Xi made the comments in a video address to the WHO’s virtual annual meeting in Geneva , and said China would donate $2 billion to the UN to help with health-care infrastructure in Africa, where the virus is taking hold at an alarming rate.
Xi called on world leaders to “step up information sharing” and defended his country against allegations that it was not transparent about the early spread of the virus, which was first reported in the city of Wuhan late last year. China will make any vaccine available all around the world if it succeeds in developing one, he said.
There was good news on the vaccine front from Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +6.89% , which reported positive results from a Phase 1 clinical trial of its vaccine candidate.
Elsewhere, Russia reported almost 9,000 infections overnight, its lowest one-day spike since May 1, while Brazil moved past Spain and Italy by case tally. The mayor of São Paulo said Brazil’s biggest city’s hospitals are close to collapse after reaching 90% capacity and could run out of space in two weeks, the BBC reported .
South Africa reported its biggest one-day increase in infections on Sunday and Japan officially entered recession. India said it’s extending its lockdown for another two weeks to May 31, but is easing some restrictions on public transport.
The head of the United Nations, António Guterres, said the pandemic should act as a wake-up call to the world. Speaking at the start of the World Health Organization’s annual meeting, Guterres lamented the lack of international cooperation in addressing the crisis.
“Many countries have ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” he said, as the Guardian reported. “As a result, the virus has spread across the world.”
There are now 316,898 fatalities from COVID-19 worldwide, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. At least 1.7 million people have recovered.
The U.S. has the highest case toll at 1.49 million and the highest death toll at 89,874.
Russia has 290,678 cases and 2,722 deaths.
The U.K. has 247,706 cases and 34,876 deaths, the highest death toll in Europe and second highest in the world after the U.S.
Brazil has moved past Spain and Italy by case number with 244,595 cases and 16,370 deaths. Spain has 231,606 cases and 27,709 deaths, while Italy has 225,886 cases and 32,007 deaths.
France has 179,693 cases and 28,111 deaths, while Germany has 176,551 cases and 8,003 deaths.
Turkey has 150,593 cases and 4,171 deaths, while Iran has 122,492 cases and 7,057 deaths.
India is next with 100,340 cases and 3,155 fatalities, followed by Peru with 92,273 cases and 2,648 deaths. China has 84,054 cases and 4,638 deaths.
New York remains the U.S. epicenter with 355,037 cases and 28,168 deaths, according to a New York Times tracker.
New York, and neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut, are gradually reopening for business in a move that may offer a blueprint for other states, if they succeed in containing the spread of the virus. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stressed that health officials will closely monitor data from the first five upstate regions that started reopening on Friday, using a checklist of metrics that will be watched daily.
New Jersey is allowing curbside pickup of goods beginning Monday and allowing nonessential construction activity to resume. Connecticut is allowing restaurants, offices, retailers and hair salons to reopen on Wednesday, but capacity is to be restricted to just 50% and workers and customers will have to follow public-safety measures.
New York City, which has borne the brunt of cases and deaths in the state, remains under lockdown until May 28, and likely later. Mayor Bill de Blasio said beaches will be open for the coming Memorial Day weekend, but people will not be allowed to swim and must observe social-distancing rules. He said a more realistic time frame to “relax anything” is “the first half of June.”