Coronavirus cases grow in Pakistan, Russia

Pakistan has had a rapid rise in new coronavirus cases, as other countries begin easing lockdowns.
Pakistan has had a rapid rise in new coronavirus cases, as other countries begin easing lockdowns.

New coronavirus hot spots have emerged in Russia and Pakistan - while in Europe and the US people who've endured weeks of lockdowns, have been getting out in sunny spring weather.

Though grateful to be outdoors, people were still wary - masks were worn everywhere, by joggers in Spain and on southern US beaches. And most people tried to maintain a two-metre gap between them.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spaniards deserved relief after weeks of confinement, but he asked citizens to remain vigilant.

Police and park officials were spread out across New York City, which sent out 1,000 officers to enforce social distancing on the warmest day since mid-March.

"Go for a walk, but respect the social distancing and wear a mask," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

New Jersey reopened state parks Saturday. Limited to 50 per cent capacity in parking areas, several had to turn away additional arrivals by the afternoon.

Meanwhile, fighter jets from the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds flew over Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington in honour of health care workers.

Elsewhere in the world, the pandemic's danger was still evident, with Russia and Pakistan reporting their biggest one-day spikes in new infections.

Overall, Russia has reported around 125,000 cases and more than 1,200 deaths. True numbers are believed to be much higher because not everyone is tested. In the far northeast, 3,000 of 10,000 workers at a vast natural gas field tested positive, Russian news agencies reported.

Moscow's mayor said this week that officials are considering establishing temporary hospitals at sports complexes and shopping malls to deal with the influx of patients. Infection cases have reached the highest levels of government, with both the prime minister and the construction minister contracting the virus.

Pakistan appears to be joining Russia with rapidly increasing case counts. On Saturday, Pakistan announced nearly 1,300 new cases, raising the total in the country of 220 million people to about 18,000.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's government said it might ease controls, but doctors have pleaded for stricter lockdowns, warning an explosion of infections would overwhelm hospitals with only 3,000 intensive care beds nationwide.

The virus has killed more than 238,000 people worldwide, including more than 65,000 in the United States and more than 24,000 each in Italy, Britain, France and Spain, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Health experts warn a second wave of infections could hit unless testing is expanded dramatically.

Australian Associated Press