Corona cases hit 7 million as Latin America crisis deepens

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 00:00 |
A vendor selling face masks waits for customers along a street in Karachi, Pakistan, yesterday. The country has recorded more than 100,000 cases of coronavirus. Photo/AFP

Santiago, Monday

The number of coronavirus infections globally topped seven million on Monday as deaths mounted in Latin America, but New Zealand’s declaration of victory against the pandemic offered some hope for the rest of the world.

Europe also continued to emerge from its lockdown, with Pope Francis proclaiming that the worst was over in Italy although he expressed sympathy for Latin America.

“Your presence in the square is a sign that in Italy the acute phase of the epidemic is over,” Francis said on Sunday while addressing Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican for the first time since the Covid-19 crisis began.

The New York City, the area of the US worst-hit by the virus, began to ease its restrictions on Monday.

As many as 400,000 workers could begin returning to construction jobs, manufacturing sites and retail stores today in the city’s first phase of reopening.

More than 205,000 people have been infected with Covid-19 in the city, and nearly 22,000 have died.

But rising numbers of deaths were recorded from Brazil to Mexico to Peru, driving the confirmed global death toll above 403,267 and the number of declared infections to 7,038,942, according Johns Hopkins University tally.

Brazil’s crisis is escalating and it has the world’s third-highest death toll at over 36,000, but President Jair Bolsonaro continues to play down the impact of the virus.

In Chile the confirmed death toll reached 2,290 after miscalculations, adding 1,541 to the figure.

The virus, which emerged in China late last year, has forced more than half of humanity into some form of lockdown over the past six months and driven the global economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Zero infections

Elsewhere, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters she danced around her living room on hearing her country had reached the milestone of zero active infections.

The South Pacific nation lifted all domestic restrictions on Monday after it went 17 days with no new infections. 

This allowed New Zealand Rugby to announce a restart to a top-flight domestic competition this week, with fans allowed to pack into the stadiums.

Thailand also hit a positive milestone after two weeks with no local infections. The only recorded cases came from overseas arrivals who were quarantined.

Fears that large parts of Asia could still have the worst in front of them persist, however, with the death toll and infection rate climbing sharply in India. 

In Europe, countries are slowly working towards a post-pandemic normal. Britain said it would reopen places of worship for individual prayer on June 15, but also on Monday began imposing a two-week quarantine period for most arrivals into the country.

Russia announced Monday it would lift a range of anti-coronavirus measures including a strict lockdown on Moscow. 

The European Union has said it could re-open borders to travellers from outside the bloc in early July.

-AFP and BBC

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