Globally, the number of new cases reported on Monday (remember, these cases are reported typically with a 24-hour delay) tumbled to the slowest rate of expansion in nearly three weeks, while the global death toll neared 700,000.
In the US, the death toll surpassed 155,000 yesterday. That comes five days after the US first broke above 150,000 deaths. Though experts like Dr. Fauci and others have warned about the potential for deaths in the US to accelerate, the number of daily deaths has remained anchored at around 1,000.
Over the past two weeks, the worst-hit countries, including the US and Brazil, have seen new cases turn mercifully lower after a streak of record-shattering single-day infection numbers.
Even the number of daily deaths in the US have moved off their highest levels since April and May, despite experts warnings about a further spike.
Most of the big news out so far on Tuesday comes out of Asia.
One day after placing Manila and its surrounding area on a strict two-week lockdown, the Philippines reported a record 6,352 new coronavirus infections, a new single-day record, bringing the total to 112,593. The 11 new fatalities reported raised the death toll to 2,115.
Yesterday, the WHO’s Dr. Tedros revealed during a press briefing (where he also noted that there may be “no silver bullet” vaccine, at least not right away) that the team of independent scientists from the WHO had finished the first part of their fact-finding mission to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the outbreak. According to a Reuters report published Tuesday morning, the team had “extensive discussions” with scientists in Wuhan and “received updates on epidemiological studies, biologic and genetic analysis and animal health research.”
The mission is the first part of a broader international probe that was demanded by the Trump Administration, Australia, EU and others.
In Japan, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced another 309 new infections, up from 258 on Monday. The SCMP reports that the Hong Kong government is building at least 2 new makeshift hospitals that will add 2,400 new beds to the territory’s COVID-19 capacity. The government announced on Monday that it would extend its social distancing restrictions for another week. Hong Kong’s “third wave” of the virus has also been its deadliest yet. Fortunately, the city reported just 80 cases on Tuesday, on par with yesterday’s number. Yesterday, the city’s health authorities reported fewer than 100 new cases for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has sought help from the mainland to increase testing and hospital capacity.
India reported more than 50,000 cases for the sixth straight day, bringing total infections to over 1.85 million.
The world’s second-most-populous country also reported another 803 deaths, bringing its total to 38,938.
China reports 36 new cases, down from 43 the previous day. Of those, 28 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and two in Liaoning Province in the northeast. Another six were from Chinese arriving from overseas.
After imposing a curfew earlier this week and shuttering a large swath of its economy in another lockdown, new legal measures go into effect on Tuesday whereby anyone caught outside in breach of Victoria’s isolation orders will face fines from AUS$1,652 ($1,200) to AUS$5,000 ($3,559).
Officials warned that noncompliance with quarantine and social distancing rules is widespread. Random checks by police on 3,000 infected people had found more than 800 were not home isolating, as they were supposed to be.
However, the Australian press, for whatever reason, focused on Chief Commissioner Shane Patton’s complaints about a small number of self-declared “sovereign citizens” who have hectored – and in at least one case, attacked – police officers trying to enforce the new orders.
Victoria Police had seen an “emergence” of “concerning groups of people who classify themselves as ‘sovereign citizens'”, the BBC reported Tuesday.
Under the current “stage four” lockdown, Melbournians can leave home only to shop, exercise and provide essential medical care, or do frontline work. Residents must shop and exercise within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of their home, and for no longer than 1 hour at a time.
This, despite a growing body of evidence that the lockdown in Victoria is having little impact on suppressing the growth of cases.