India’s Covid-19 caseload, meanwhile, inched closer to 64 lakh-mark with 81,484 infections reported in a day, while the number of people who recuperated from the disease crossed 53 lakh pushing the recovery rate to 83.70 per cent, the Union health ministry said on Friday. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country mounted to 63,94,068, while the death toll climbed to 99,773 with the infection claiming 1,095 lives in a span of 24 hours, according to the ministry data updated at 8 am on Friday.

Even at 1 lakh, India has a much lower death rate than other worst-hit nations with almost 100,000 fatalities so far — fewer than half the grisly toll of 205,000 recorded in the US, which has roughly a quarter of the population. Brazil has meanwhile recorded 140,000 deaths. By Thursday midnight, the pandemic had killed at least 1,019,267 people around the world and infected over 34 million.

French authorities said they may place Paris on maximum virus alert as soon as Monday, potentially requiring all bars to close as the number of cases surges.

Spain, fighting a second wave of the virus, also extended drastic restrictions across its capital, despite fierce opposition from Madrid’s regional authorities, and most other regions have agreed to tighten curbs in areas of rapid contagion. Madrid is struggling with a rate of 780 cases per 100,000 people, compared with just 300 per 100,000 in the rest of Spain — which in itself is the highest in the European Union.

In Britain, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance told reporters “things are definitely heading in the wrong direction” as the government extended lockdowns to several towns in northern England, effectively putting more than a quarter of the country under tighter coronavirus restrictions.

And the Slovak and Czech governments both decided to impose states of emergency, starting Thursday and next Monday respectively, to allow them to take quick decisions in the face of considerable upticks in infections and deaths.

In the sporting world, Italian football suffered a blow with the postponement of Genoa’s weekend match against Torino because team and staff members at the Ligurian club tested positive for the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, European football’s governing body, UEFA, said that it will allow spectators back into matches in the Champions League and its other club and international competitions “at a maximum of 30 percent” capacity.

In Switzerland, stadium crowds also returned for the first time since the pandemic began, but Health Minister Alain Berset said the Alpine country was entering a “delicate phase” of its battle against the virus.

On the other side of the globe in China, where the outbreak began late last year, the Golden Week holiday marking the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic took on added significance this year.

“People are travelling with a vengeance!” said Huo Binxing, a banker from Beijing who was heading to Lhasa in Tibet. “It’s our first chance to unwind after such a stressful period.”

Also spreading their wings were travelers to South Africa, where a first batch of regional and international flights landed Thursday after a more than six-month shutdown.

While it reopened its borders to all African countries, South Africa is barring tourists from around 50 nations with high infection rates, including Britain, France, India, Russia and the US.

The skies were far less bright in the United States, where American and United airlines announced they would begin furloughing 19,000 and 13,000 workers respectively as US officials have failed to reach a deal on fresh aid.



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