Virus surge as many nations ease curbs


Foreign Desk Report

GENEVA: The number of global coronavirus cases continued to surge on Tuesday in many large countries that have been lifting lockdowns, including the US, even as new infections stabilised or dropped in parts of Western Europe.
India has been recording about 15,000 new infections each day, and some states on Tuesday were considering fresh lockdown measures to try to halt the spread of the virus in the nation of more than 1.3 billion. The government earlier lifted a nationwide lockdown in a bid to restart the ailing economy, which has shed millions of jobs. Hospitals in Pakistan are turning away patients, but with the economy teetering, the government remains determined to reopen the country.
New cases have also been rising steeply in Mexico, Colombia and Indonesia.
Brazil, with more than 1.1 million cases and 51,000 deaths, has been affected more than anywhere but the US, which has reported more than 2.3 million cases and 120,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. In the US, surges in cases across the South and West are raising fears that progress against the virus is slipping away, as states reopen and many Americans resist wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.
On Tuesday, Dr Anthony Fauci will return to Capitol Hill at a fraught moment in America’s response. The government’s top infectious disease expert will testify before a House committee.
His testimony comes after US President Donald Trump said at a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he had asked administration officials to slow down testing, because too many positive cases are turning up.
Many who attended the rally did not wear masks, and for some that was an act of defiance against what they see as government intrusion. White House officials later tried to walk back Trump’s comment on testing, suggesting it wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Dr Michael Ryan, the World Health Organsation’s (WHO) emergencies chief, said the record number of new cases couldn’t be explained by increased testing alone, noting many countries have seen large increases in hospital admissions and deaths.
“The epidemic is now peaking or moving towards a peak in a number of large countries,” he said.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took more than three months for the world to see one million confirmed infections, but just eight days to see the most recent one million cases.