Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: March 26

(Update, adds information from WHO, the US, the Vatican, France, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Caribbean)

Miami Desk, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- Here is a roundup of stories around the world related to the coronavirus pandemic:

WHO: The World Health Organization reported Thursday that almost 50,000 new cases of coronavirus were detected in the last 24 hours worldwide, bringing the global total to 462,684, with 20,834 deaths.

US: The United States on Thursday moved into first place – surpassing both China and Italy – in the number of Covid-19 cases, according to figures compiled by The Johns Hopkins University, citing 82,404 known cases in the US, while The New York Times calculated that there have been 81,321 cases. Meanwhile, the official tally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 68,440 cases and 994 deaths.

US: Some Ford automobile manufacturing plants will resume operations – for instance at its facility in Hermosillo, Mexico – at the end of the first week in April, while other firms will delay re-starting their own operations. The Hermosillo plant produces Ford’s Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models, and on April 14 the firm will relaunch production at its Dearborn, Kentucky, Kansas City and Ohio plants.

US: Veteran US actor Mark Blum – who appeared in “Desperately Seeking Susan” and in the successful TV series “You” – died Thursday at age 69 from complications of the coronavirus, following Broadway playwright Terrence McNally, who succumbed to the disease earlier this week.

THE VATICAN: Pope Francis donated 30 respirators to Italian hospitals to help combat the coronavirus, which has killed more than 8,000 in Italy, the Holy See’s press office reported.

ART BASEL: The coronavirus pandemic has forced organizers of Art Basel, the world’s foremost art fair, to postpone the 4-day event, scheduled for June 18-21, until September 17-20.

FRANCE: French law enforcement authorities have fined or otherwise penalized more than 225,000 people for failing to abide by the obligatory stay-home order imposed on March 17. Fines start at 135 euros (about $151) for a first offense but can reach 1,500 euros for re-offenders within 15 days and six months in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros for a third offense within 30 days.

CUBA: Cuba said that US criticism of the medical assistance the island’s regime is providing to countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic is “particularly offensive” and part of an “immoral campaign” amid a “pandemic that threatens everyone.”

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vazquez announced Thursday that the stay-home order issued on March 8 and scheduled to conclude on March 31 will be extended until April 12. The US commonwealth has 64 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and two people have died.

VENEZUELA: Venezuela registered its first death from the coronavirus pandemic along with one additional confirmed case, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 107, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez reported.

CARIBBEAN: The French overseas department of Martinique registered 15 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the island’s total to more than 80 as local authorities predicted that the number of cases will markedly increase in the coming days. Trinidad & Tobago has registered 61 cases and one death, Jamaica 26 cases and one death, while Aruba and Barbados have confirmed 19 and 18 cases, respectively.

CHINA: China has temporarily banned entry to foreigners, whether or not they hold a residency card or tourist visa, in a bid to slow down the number of imported Covid-19 cases in the country after authorities detected a surge in such infections while locally transmitted cases fell to zero.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan authorities announced the release of up to 10,000 prisoners across the country to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, which so far infected more than 90 people and killed three in Afghanistan.

UNITED KINGDOM: UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced an emergency economic package to help protect the self-employed, who from June will be able to access a taxable grant covering 80 percent of their average profit up to 2,500 pounds ($3,306).

PORTUGAL: Authorities reported 60 deaths and 3,544 confirmed cases and around 15,000 people under surveillance throughout the country, with the worst hit areas in the north and Lisbon region.

ROMANIA: The Minister of Health in Romania Victor Costache has resigned in the midst of the coronavirus crisis after announcing almost two million Bucharest residents would be tested for COVID-19

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