More states ease blockages as U.S. kills nearly 55,000

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Belarus organized a national day of civic work over the weekend, with millions joining the effort despite concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in the country. President Alexander Lukashenko, an extremist who has ruled the country for a quarter of a century, rejected the pandemic and refused to institute control measures as it continues to spread.

Belarusian authorities confirmed at least 11,289 cases and 75 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, although critics say the actual numbers are unknown.

The International Labor Organization and Belarusian unions have called on the authorities to cancel the traditional Saturday “subbotnik” – an unpaid civic work practice in Soviet times – amid concerns over the escalating epidemic in the country. Nevertheless, 2.3 million civil servants, including health professionals, participated in the work. The President himself has planted trees in a national park with his dog.

People participate in
People participate in “Subbotnik”, a day of volunteer community work, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Minsk, Belarus, on April 25, 2020.

Vasily Fedosenko / REUTERS

In remarks published online, Lukashenko dismissed most of the world’s reactions to the pandemic, calling it “coronapsychosis”. On the same day, Belarus reported 817 new cases of the virus, its record increase in one day.

While Russia and neighboring European countries have introduced strict lockdowns in recent weeks, Lukashenko continued to make fun of the disease and insisted that no one was going to die from the coronavirus in his country. He charged the reported deaths with underlying causes.

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