The global death toll in the novel coronavirus pandemic soared past the 200,000 milestone on Sunday, as the World Health Organization warned against “immunity passports” for recovered patients, seen as a possible tool for countries preparing to re-open their economies.
The WHO opposes such “passports” because recovery from the virus might not protect a person from reinfection.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the UN health body said in a statement.
The world remained in wait as companies and governments raced to develop treatments and, eventually, a vaccine for the virus, which first surfaced in China in late 2019.
READ: COVID-19 Tracker: PHILIPPINES as of April 26, 2020
The WHO warned on Saturday that people who test positive and survive infection cannot be certain they will not be hit again by the coronavirus.
The warning came as some governments study measures, such as “immunity passports”, for those who have recovered as one way to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.
Australia has launched a smartphone app to trace people who come in contact with coronavirus patients despite privacy concerns that authorities insisted Sunday were unwarranted.
The COVIDSafe app uses a phone’s Bluetooth wireless signal to store information about people’s interactions, and can be accessed by health officials if a person contracts coronavirus.
Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the app would speed up a “laborious process” for health authorities tracking down users who have been within 1.5 meters of someone who has the virus.
“What this will do is give a list of the mobile phone numbers of those people who have been in contact within that distance for 15 minutes or more,” Murphy said.
“That could lead to someone being contacted a day or two earlier than they otherwise may have been.”
Saudi Arabia on Sunday partially eased a 24-hour curfew in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic, except for in hot spots including the Muslim holy city of Mecca.
The curfew will be relaxed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and malls and retailers will be allowed to reopen in all regions of the kingdom until May 13, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
But a round-the-clock lockdown will be maintained in some areas including Mecca, which has reported the kingdom’s highest number of infections recently despite being sealed off.
Many countries around the Middle East and North Africa have announced a similar easing of lockdown restrictions as Muslims mark the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Arab world, is scrambling to limit the spread of the disease at home.
Beijing has banned “uncivilized” behavior such as not covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, the city government said Sunday, in a new set of regulations to improve public hygiene amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The laws aim to promote “civilized behavior” and relate to combating the pandemic that has infected more than 82,000 in China alone.
Rule breakers will be slapped with fines for offenses including not wearing a mask in public when ill, the municipal government said on its website.
The laws also require public places to set up one-meter distance markers and to provide communal chopsticks and serving spoons for shared meals.
Citizens must also “dress neatly” in public and not go shirtless—an apparent reference to the so-called “Beijing bikini” practice where men roll T-shirts up to expose their stomachs in hot weather.
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