Coronavirus death toll hits 500,000 worldwide

RSTV Bureau
File photo: Coronavirus in China

File photo: Coronavirus in China

The worldwide number of recorded infections is now just over 10 million from the virus that first emerged in China late last year, with fears growing of a full-blown second wave. The rate of contagion has doubled since May 21.

One million new infections were recorded in just six days, according to AFP news agency, even as some countries loosen punishing lockdowns that have devastated their economies and thrown millions out of work.

United States, the hardest-hit country, has more than 2.5 million cases alone, and efforts to reopen the world’s biggest economy have been 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 face mask as his health secretary warned the “window is closing” for the country to gain control of the situation.

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

Infections are up too in some other parts of the world that have reopened, with Europe registering a caseload of 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 counties — an area with 13.5 million residents — to close because of the rising number of cases. The hardest-hit parts of the US are in the south and west, where many state leaders had pushed for early economic reopenings.

But Los Angeles, the second-largest US city, only re-opened its bars on June 19. California had already ordered some areas to reinstate stay-at-home orders, while San Francisco announced a “pause” in its reopening.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis conceded there had been an “explosion” in new cases as the state notched a record 9,585 cases in 24 hours. 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 other 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”.

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.