- US daily cases below 60k
- Global daily cases below 200k
- Hong Kong imposes new restrictions
- France makes mask wearing mandatory in public
- Australia cases top 10k.
- Iran closes mosques, schools
- WHO warns: “there will be no return to normal”
* * *
The number of new coronavirus cases reported yesterday in the US remained below the critical 60k threshold, but from Asia to Europe, economies that only recently appeared to have beaten the coronavirus are now imposing new restrictions to try and prevent a resurgence.
But globally, the number of new cases remained near a recently hit record high, pushing the worldwide total to 13,238,121 as of Tuesday morning. Though crucially, the number of cases reported yesterday came in just below 200k, roughly 30k shy of the record.
The death toll from the deadly virus has reached 575,543 globally, according to Worldometer. Of the currently infected 4,964,306 patients, 4,905,425 were in mild condition, while 58,881 were in serious or critical condition.
Last night (Tuesday morning in HK), Hong Kong announced plans to impose a new lockdown that appears to be even more restrictive than the measures it imposed during the opening weeks of the outbreak. While HK had previously relied on closing borders with the mainland, the new measures focus on suppressing domestic transmission. They include: that face masks will be mandatory for people using public transport and restaurants will no longer provide dine-in services, instead only offering takeaway service.
We teased the new measures in our report from yesterday, when a top HK epidemiologist warned that a mutated strain of the virus circulating in HK is even more infectious than its predecessor.
If an individual doesn’t wear a mask on public transport, they face a fine of HK$5,000 ($645). Gatherings would be limited to 4 people from 50. Gyms, places of amusement and other establishments must shut for a week.
“The recent emergence of local cases of unknown infection source indicates the existence of sustained silent transmission in the community,” the government said in a statement late on Monday.
The Chinese-ruled city recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, including 41 that were locally transmitted, health authorities said, bringing its total outbreak to 224 people over the past week.
In Australia, Melbourne remains on lockdown while the number of new cases being reported continues to climb, the Australian state of Victoria has recorded 270 new cases of coronavirus, while New South Wales recorded 13, bringing the national total to about 10,250.
As the US outbreak in the Sun Belt nears its peak, the EU is reportedly set to recommend keeping its external borders shut to Americans and most other foreigners for at least two more weeks as fears grow of a second coronavirus wave.
As fears about a resurgence in Asia intensify, the WHO raised concerns over the Philippines’ rising number of new cases, which have swamped some local hospitals as the number of new cases being reported daily hits record after new record.
The proportion of positive cases in the country is gradually increasing from about 6.5% two weeks ago to about 7.8% on Monday, WHO representative in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe warned.
“This is worrying as it shows that there is continuing transmission. This is also reflected by the increased number of admissions into hospitals,” he said.
Similarly, after recording a record jump in deaths a few days ago, Iran is reeling from its own resurgence, prompting Tehran to close schools, universities, Shia seminaries, mosques and other sites of religious gatherings for at least a week, local state news reported. Iran reported 2,521 new cases and 179 deaths overnight, bringing the total figures to 262,173 cases and 13,211 deaths.
As Catalonian government imposes new restrictions on local hot spots, across the border in France, President Macron warned that the virus “is coming back a little bit” and that starting next week, France will make mask wearing compulsory in public spaces.
During a press briefing Tuesday in Geneva, the WHO warned the pandemic could get far worse if countries around the world do not follow basic healthcare precautions.
“The virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
“There will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future,” Tedros said.