The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. neared 5,000 early Thursday, according to NBC News’ tally, and there were more than 240,000 confirmed cases. In Spain, which has the world’s third highest confirmed infection rate, the death toll topped 10,000 on Thursday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state after refusing to implement statewide social distancing guidelines, and the mayor of Los Angeles told everyone to start wearing masks.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned violators of coronavirus lockdown measures they could be shot for causing trouble and said abuse of medical workers was a serious crime that would not be tolerated. The Philippines has recorded 96 coronavirus deaths and 2,311 confirmed cases, all but three in the past three weeks, with infections now being reported in the hundreds every day.
The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US last week hit a new record of more than 6 million as coronavirus measures took hold. Figures from the US labor department showed the number of claims in the week ending 28 March climbed to 6.65 million. The number of claims – which previously hit a record last week – have already far outstripped the levels seen during the last recession, when they peaked at 665,000.
A Pakistani court has commuted the death sentence of a British-born man convicted of the 2002 kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and acquitted three co-accused. At least four people were convicted in connection with Pearl’s murder, including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding the killing. He has been in jail for 18 years awaiting the outcome of an appeal.
The US says it is sending warships to the Caribbean to stop illegal drugs. “We must not let the drug cartels exploit the [coronavirus] pandemic to threaten American lives,” President Donald Trump said. The move comes a week after the US charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other senior officials in the country with “narco-terrorism”.