Brazil surpassed 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus outbreak as the disease continued to rip through Latin America, while Italy — at one point the hardest-hit country — prepared to
reopen its borders in time for the European summer.
After chalking up devastating human losses in Europe, the virus has now taken a firm grip in Latin America, where Brazil surpassed a chilling landmark late Tuesday.
The latest official Covid-19 death toll of 31,199 is the fourth-highest in the world, after the US, Britain and Italy.
The figures come as some Brazilian states began to emerge from weeks of economically-stifling quarantine measures despite warnings from the WHO and epidemiologists it is too much, too soon.
"In the current situation, relaxing the measures is adding gasoline to the fire," Rafael Galliez, an infectious diseases expert at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told AFP.
Surf's up again in Rio
Yet surfers and swimmers streamed back to the beach in Rio de Janeiro as the city started easing lockdown measures, allowing the reopening of places of worship and water sports.
"I think that here, in the water, there is no risk. It's not like in the stores," said Cesar Calmon as he delighted in the waves off Ipanema beach.
In Europe, most countries have flattened their initial infection curves and are gradually easing out of confinement as they try to curb the economic fallout of the shutdowns.
Italy reopens its borders to travellers from Europe Wednesday, three months after the country went into lockdown, with hopes for economic revival pinned on reigniting its tourism industry.
But there were fears many foreign tourists will be put off visiting a country where 33,000 people died of the disease.
"Come to Calabria. There's only one risk: that you'll get fat," the southern region's governor Jole Santelli said as the race began to lure big-spenders — or any spenders — back to Italy's sandy shores.
In a symbolic victory in the French capital, Parisians reclaimed beloved cafe terraces that were allowed to sprawl across pavements to accommodate social distancing measures.
"Coffee on a terrace, that's Paris!" said Martine Depagniat, among those enjoying the new freedom after 10 weeks of closures.
Schools, swimming pools, pubs and tourist sites are steadily reopening across the continent to ease the economic pain, and stock markets rose on European optimism, despite fears of a second wave of infections.
Greece suspended flights to and from Qatar on Tuesday after detecting multiple infections on a flight from Doha to Athens.
The respiratory disease has claimed nearly 400,000 lives and infected more than 6.2 million in its rampage around the globe, upending life for billions since it first emerged in China late last year.
The focus now falls on Latin America, which passed one million cases this week.
Brazil has more than half of that caseload — 555,383 — making it the second most affected country after the United States, where experts fear mass demonstrations over the police killing of African American George Floyd could reignite the spread of Covid-19.
The World Health Organization has warned that healthcare systems could soon be overwhelmed with Peru, Chile and Mexico also seeing big daily increases in infections.
Mexico has also started rebooting the economy after more than two months of shutdown, allowing activity in the car, mining and construction industries to resume.