Global coronavirus infections top 10 million amid fears of full-blown second wave

Last Updated 29 June 2020, 02:55 IST

Global infections from the novel coronavirus passed 10 million Sunday, an AFP tally showed, as California ordered bars in LA and some other parts of the state to quell a surge in cases there.

One million new infections were recorded in just six days, according to the count based on official sources, even as countries were loosening punishing lockdowns that have devastated their economies and thrown millions out of work.

The worldwide death toll from the disease that first emerged in China six months ago is also nearing 500,000 as fears grow of a full-blown second wave. The rate of contagion has doubled since May 21.

The United States, the hardest-hit country, has more than 2.5 million cases alone, and efforts to reopen the world's economic powerhouse were set back by a jump in new infections in big states such as Florida and California.

President Donald Trump was under growing pressure to set an example by wearing a facemask as his health secretary warned the "window is closing" for the country to gain control of the pandemic.

The disease is also rampaging through Latin America, where Brazil has over 1.3 million cases alone.

Infections are up too in other parts of the world that have reopened, with Europe still registering the biggest caseload at over 2.6 million, although daily rates have stabilised.

The US state of California was the latest authority to reimpose restrictions, ordering bars in Los Angeles and six other Californian counties closed because the rising number of cases.

The governor had already ordered some areas to reinstate stay-at-home orders, while San Francisco announced a "pause" in its reopening.

In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis conceded there had been an "explosion" in new cases as the "Sunshine State" notched a record 9,585 cases in 24 hours.

Young people frustrated by months of confinement have poured back to the state's beaches, boardwalks and bars, often without masks and seemingly unconcerned about social distancing.

Miami announced beaches would close over the July 4 holiday weekend and bars are also shutting their doors.

New coronavirus cases have been surging in more than half of US states, reaching record highs.

Several countries have also imposed new restrictions to counter fresh outbreaks.

China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding Beijing to contain a fresh cluster.

Beijing official Xu Hejian described the situation as "severe and complicated," saying the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.

Britain's government warned it might have to shut down the central English city of Leicester and its population of 340,000 because of a spike in cases. Media reports said were linked to fresh outbreaks at food production plants.

But the government still plans a July 4 re-opening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across England, despite warnings from some medical experts of a second wave in what is Europe's worst-hit country, with more than 43,000 deaths.

The tension between reopening battered economies -- efforts pushed in the US by Trump -- and public health concerns is a source of debate in nearly every country.

US deaths now exceed 125,000, about a quarter of the world total.

"This is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN.

The EU has pushed back a decision on a list of "safe countries" from which travellers can visit Europe -- a list which could exclude the US.

With Trump struggling to get his re-election bid off the ground ahead of the November vote, the campaign confirmed that planned events featuring Vice President Mike Pence in Arizona and Florida next week had been postponed "out of an abundance of caution".

Texas -- among the first US states to reopen -- also shut down its bars after the governor conceded he had allowed them to get back to business too soon.

Infections are also running higher in India, with densely populated cities particularly hard hit.

Although a nationwide lockdown is gradually being eased, the country set a daily record Saturday with 18,500 new cases and 385 deaths. Total infections are at 509,000, with more than 15,600 deaths.

Iran, which has struggled to curb its outbreak even as it gradually lifted restrictions from April, said it would make mask-wearing mandatory in certain areas from next week.

Many global events have had to be curtailed because of the pandemic, with the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride march marked mostly online.

The virus has also disrupted world sports.

But football matches have resumed in Brazil, despite the objections of two clubs, Botafogo and Fluminense, who lost a court battle to stop the return to the pitch.

(Published 29 June 2020, 02:47 IST)

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