While a number of countries are preparing to start easing their coronavirus lockdowns, the UK is set to announce an extension of its containment measures
As of Saturday, April 18, the total number of COVID-19 cases recorded globally is more than 2.1 million, with more than 153,000 deaths.
Europe has had more than 980,000 cases, with more than 95,000 deaths occurred.
Today, some good news came from France, where the number of patients in intensive care kept dropping as well as the number of overall virus hospitalisations.
The UK has announced is due to receive 84 tons of PPE from Turkey, amid a reported shortage in basic protective equipment. The country has also pledged another £1.6 billion of funds to local councils to fight the COVID-19 emergency.
Spain has ruled out it will end lockdown anytime soon. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez has demanded an extension until May 9. New infections rose by nearly 4,500 and the death toll rose by 565 in the past 24 hours.
Italy has reported almost 3,500 new cases today. The country - which has suffered the highest number of deaths in Europe so far - is approaching the beginning of its seventh week of nationwide lockdown, with people allowed out of their homes only for essential work or buying food and tending to family members.
Other key developments:
The US unveiled guidelines to reopen the economy in areas where there is low transmission.
Air pollution in European cities has plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The United Kingdom has extended its lockdown measures for at least three more weeks.
Brazil's health minister says he has been fired by President Jair Bolsonaro.
Research in five EU countries shows that up to 57% of deaths due to coronavirus are in care homes.
There has been global alarm at Donald Trump's decision to stop funding the WHO.
French president Macron calls for testing of controversial malaria drug therapy, hailing scientist behind the idea.
Follow all the day's coronavirus updates in our live blog below.
France's number of patients in intensive care keeps dropping
Spain may extend lockdown till May 9
Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez said in a press conference he asked to extend the lockdown until May 9. He added that 'there is more effort needed to reach phase two' of the emergency.
More PPE arriving to Britain next week to ease shortage issues
British authorities reported 888 more coronavirus-related hospital deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 15,464. The latest daily figure from the health department is 41 higher than the previous day's 847 deaths. Britain posted a record high daily death toll of 980 a week ago.
Italy's daily coronavirus cases at nearly 3,500
The Health Ministry said there were 3,491 new coronavirus cases, nearly identical to the previous day increase in confirmed infections. There were 482 more deaths, raising the overall official toll to 23,227 in Italy, which has Europe's highest number of deaths.
The country is approaching the end of its sixth week of nationwide lockdown, with people allowed out of their homes only for essential work or buying food and tending to family members. Overall, Italy has nearly 176,000 confirmed cases.
Today, the Italian Air Force tweeted a video showing a new medical facility for coronavirus patients near Turin that it helped to build along with the country's Crisis Unit.
Portugal officially extends lockdown until May, PM hopes for gradual return to normal life
"The next 15 days are decisive for us to learn to live safely with the virus, so that May is the month in which we can gradually and progressively return to live more normally," he said.
The country has 18,841 confirmed cases and 629 deaths.
Air pollution plummets in European cities
Air pollution has plummeted by more than 45% compared to 2019 values in some European cities as coronavirus restriction measures have kept people home.
Paris, for instance, saw nitrogen dioxide levels drop by 54%, according to research that was released by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).
Read more: https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/16/air-pollution-plummets-by-more-than-45-in-major-european-cities
US President Donald Trump prepares to unveil national guidelines on relaxing social distancing measures
The new guidelines are expected to allow restrictions to ease in areas with low transmission of COVID-19 while keeping them in place in harder-hit areas, the AP reported.
Trump briefed US state governors on the plan, saying they were going to be responsible for deciding when it is safe to lift restrictions in their states.
“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told governors, according to an audio recording obtained by The Associated Press. “We’re going to be standing along side of you.”