Coronavirus: Global deaths near half a million while new clusters multiply in Europe
Deaths due to COVID-19 have reached nearly 500,000 globally, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The grim milestone comes as health authorities warn that the pandemic is far from over and has made a comeback in regions that appeared to have defeated the virus a few weeks ago.
Europe fears ‘resurgence’ in cases as people ignore distancing
Authorities in Europe have been calling on people to act responsibly after good weather resulted in crowding on the coast of England.
“An unprecedented number of visitors” gathered in Bournemouth, a costal town in southern England, the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said.
Local Council leader Vikki Slade said she was “absolutely appalled” at the scenes. Beachgoers left a considerable amount of waste behind.
In London, the Metropolitan police said they “had seen some large numbers of people completely flouting the health regulations seeming not to care at all about their own or their families’ health and wanting to have large parties”.
Meanwhile, several thousands gathered in Liverpool to celebrate the football club’s Premier League title win, ignoring social distancing and putting public safety at risk, a joint statement by the football team, Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council read.
They deemed such behaviours as “wholly unacceptable”.
Germany, one of the countries that had most successfully controlled the outbreak, reinstated lockdown in two districts of its most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, after 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for coronavirus.
It followed other recent outbreaks in Berlin, where 369 households were quarantined.
Other clusters were discovered in the states of Hesse and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania among members of religious communities and in retirement homes.
Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Saturday that “the risk posed by the virus is still serious”.
“It’s easy to forget because Germany has got through the crisis well so far, but that doesn’t mean we are protected […] that is not the case, as is demonstrated by these regional outbreaks.”
Not too far away – in the Balkans – Croatia reimposed quarantine on travellers from Bosnia, Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo following a second wave of coronavirus in the region.
On the same day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned against a “significant resurgence” in COVID-19 cases in nearly a dozen countries in their Europe region.
The nations concerned are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Macedonia, Sweden, and Ukraine.
Czech Republic is another worrying case. On Friday it recorded the highest number of daily infections in more than two months, following several new local outbreaks.
All-time record in US daily infections as southern states impose new restrictions
The pandemic is not loosening grip in the US, where the daily number of infections surged to an all-time high of 45,300 on Friday.
Over the past two weeks, newly reported cases per day have risen about 60% on average, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.
Texas closed all bars and Florida banned alcohol in such venues. They joined other states, especially in the South and the West, who are backtracking or putting on hold any further reopening of their economies.
The US remains the worst-affected nation for both number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths.
India hits half-million cases, South Korea struggles to contain new outbreak
India reported more than 18,000 new cases on Saturday, pushing the total over the half-million mark, the fourth-highest in the world globally after the US, Brazil and Russia.
This prompted the city of Gauhati, capital of Assam state, to announce a new two-week lockdown from Monday, with night curfews and weekend lockdowns in the rest of the state.
Another state currently battling against a second wave is South Korea, where new clusters were spotted outside the capital, Seoul.
Many infections were linked to nightspots, church gatherings, restaurants, door-to-door salespeople and warehouse employees.
Authorities have warned they may impose stricter social distancing measures.