China reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in months on Sunday, triggering fears of a second wave of infections as more European countries prepare to reopen their borders.
The shock resurgence in domestic infections has rattled China, where the disease emerged late last year but had largely been tamed through severe restrictions on movement that were later emulated across the globe.
It also gives a bleak insight into the difficulties the world will face in conquering COVID-19, coming as many European countries prepare to welcome visitors from elsewhere on the continent from Monday.
Second wave of coronavirus occurring in Beijing and elsewhere?
Adding to the concern, Italy is fighting new outbreaks of its own, Iran and India have reported worrying increases in deaths and infections and the pandemic is gathering pace in Latin America.
Beijing has carried out mass testing after 36 of China’s 57 new cases on Sunday were linked to a wholesale food market in the capital.
The city has raced to quash the new outbreak, issuing travel warnings, closing the market, deploying paramilitary police and putting nearby housing estates under lockdown. More than 10,000 people have already been tested in the area, with another eight cases diagnosed on Sunday.
More than 10,000 people have already been tested in the area, with another eight cases diagnosed on Sundayhttps://t.co/hqn5MPtzPb
— Mint (@livemint) June 14, 2020
People were prevented from leaving their homes at 11 residential estates in south Beijing’s Fengtai district after most of the cases were linked to a nearby meat market, city officials said in a press briefing.
Beijing’s first COVID-19 case in two months, announced on Thursday, had visited Xinfadi meat market last week and had no recent travel history outside the city.
“I went to Xinfadi market, so I want to confirm that I am not infected,” a 32-year-old woman surnamed Guo said as she queued at a stadium for a test.
Nine nearby schools and kindergartens have been closed. On Friday, Beijing officials delayed the return of students to primary schools across the city, and suspended all sporting events and group dining. Cross-provincial tour groups were suspended on Saturday.
Increasing cases worldwide could point to second wave of coronavirus
The Middle East’s hardest-hit country Iran reported its own grim uptick on Sunday, recording more than 100 new virus deaths in a single day for the first time in two months.
The daily number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 spiked above 100 in Iran for the first time in two months amid signs of a resurgence of the coronavirus following an easing of lockdown measures.
Over the last 24 hours, at least 107 people in Iran died with the disease, the highest number since 13 April, according to official statistics provided by the health ministry in Tehran.
And there have been two new outbreaks in Rome, with 109 infections including five deaths diagnosed at a hospital and 15 cases detected at a building inhabited by squatters.
“It means the virus hasn’t lost its infectiousness, it isn’t weakening… we shouldn’t let down our guard,” World Health Organization deputy director Ranieri Guerra told Italian journalists.
“Such micro-outbreaks were inevitable, but they are limited in time and space. And today we have the tools to intercept them and confine them.”
More than 430,000 people worldwide have died from the respiratory illness, nearly halfway through a year in which countless lives have been upended and the global economy ravaged.
The pandemic is now spreading most rapidly in Latin America, threatening healthcare systems and sparking political turmoil.
Brazil now has the second-highest number of virus deaths after the United States, and the Chilean health minister resigned on the weekend amid a furore over the country’s true number of fatalities.
In the US, more than a dozen states — including populous Texas and Florida — have in recent days reported their highest-ever daily case totals,
The rise comes as huge anti-racism protests rage across America and the world, with thousands stretching a human chain across Berlin on Sunday — while keeping a safe distance.
Coronavirus exposes poor healthcare systems
More than 1,000 new infections are being recorded every day in India’ capital, exposing a dire shortage of hospital beds.
“They don’t care whether we live or die,” said Kashish Jain, whose father died from coronavirus in the back of an ambulance as his family raced around Delhi, pleading with hospitals to take him.
Hospitals in neighbouring Pakistan are also turning patients away, with the government warning the country’s cases could peak at more than a million by the end of next month.
Equities dipped Monday, extending last week’s losses on fears of a second wave of virus infections around the world that could put the brakes on the easing of lockdowns and a budding economic recovery. https://t.co/VNDkjVPIfV
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) June 15, 2020
According to an op-ed for Global Village Space, renowned intellectual and political dissident, Noam Chomsky, indicated that while it was common knowledge for quite some time that a pandemic could happen, no significant preparations were made to avert the crisis or to prepare for it.
There was a lack of attention by pharmaceutical companies to work towards a vaccine to deal with the coronavirus epidemics. They remained inclined towards making profits from focusing on relatively a lot less critical products like body creams than to focus on matters of more substantial social importance.
The crisis has also led to immunisation programmes being suspended, and polio has been detected in areas of Afghanistan previously declared free of the life-threatening disease.
Europe improving and re-opening
The news has been better in Europe, which has mostly seen caseloads steadily fall in recent months.
Germany, Belgium, France and Greece will open their borders to EU countries from Monday, with Austria to follow the next day.
Spain said it will reopen its borders to EU countries — except for Portugal — on June 21.
And French President Emmanuel Macron is set to give a speech on Sunday night detailing plans to further ease restrictions.
In another joyful return to semi-normality, football superstar Lionel Messi took to the pitch again in Spain as Barcelona resumed their La Liga title challenge and mauled Real Mallorca 4-0 in an empty stadium on Saturday.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
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