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COVID-19: Pope Francis calls on the world not to fear

As the world marks Easter Sunday, the US is looking to beef up its COVID-19 testing and monitoring capabilities.

A general view shows Pope Francis (rear L) celebrate the "In Coena Domini" Mass of the Lord's Supper of Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples and inaugurating the Easter triduum, on 9 April 2020 behind closed doors at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - With the rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe showing no signs of slowing, Pope Francis is calling on the world to "not yield to fear".

The pontiff was leading an Easter vigil inside an empty St. Peter's Basilica.

Meanwhile, as the world marks Easter Sunday, the US is looking to beef up its testing and monitoring capabilities.

The largest global economy has logged another grim milestone, making it the country with the highest death toll and infections in the world.

Half a million cases have now been confirmed while more than 20,000 people have died.

The figures are staggering amid mounting scrutiny of president Donald Trump's response to the pandemic.

CARTOON: Coronavirus Goes Viral

Dr Jack & Curtis.

The US president has come under fire for appearing to not take drastic action against the crisis soon enough.

Meanwhile, New York state - which remains the epicenter of the disease - has recorded more than 700 deaths in one day - taking the death toll to more than 8,600.

This means the city has more fatalities than China and Germany put together.

State governor Andrew Cuomo said, “These are depicting incredible loss and pain that all individuals are in our thoughts and prayers.”

On home soil, South Africa has 2,028 known coronavirus infections and 25 COVID-19 related deaths

This is a far cry from 1.7 million cases and 108,000 confirmed fatalities globally.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)