Masks, travel restrictions, testing as virus cases increase

Masks, travel restrictions, testing as virus cases increase

BANGKOK (AP) – The number of coronavirus cases is rising to a new level in several US states and around the world, potentially wiping out two months of progress in the fight against the pandemic and pushing governments and companies to impose new restrictions.

Indonesia exceeded the 50,000 mark for confirmed infections on Thursday, as the government allowed companies to reopen under mounting economic pressure. In Melbourne, Australia, health professionals planned to go door to door to test more than 100,000 residents in a coronavirus hotspot that threatens to reverse the nation’s success in fighting the virus.

In the Indian capital of New Delhi, which has reported more than 70,000 cases, authorities will conduct door-to-door investigations into the virus. Because the city’s hospitals were overwhelmed, military personnel provided care in makeshift medical departments made from railroad cars. India reported a record number of 16,922 cases on Thursday, bringing the national total to 473,105, with nearly 15,000 deaths.

U.S. hospital officials and health experts, meanwhile, warn that politicians who focus on the economy and an audience fed up with being locked up are taking the deadly spiral of medical disasters to new heights. The 34,700 cases of COVID-19 reported on Tuesday brought the US back to almost its peak in late April of 36,400 new cases in one day, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Several states set case records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Oklahoma. Some also broke hospitalizations, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.

“People became complacent,” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of the Houston Methodist hospital system. “And frankly, it comes back and bites us.”

The virus is responsible for more than 120,000 U.S. deaths – the highest toll in the world – and for more than 2.3 million confirmed infections across the country. On Wednesday, the much-cited computer model of the University of Washington outbreak by October 1 predicted nearly 180,000 American deaths.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont have announced that their states, devastated by early outbreaks that appear to be under control, will now require travelers from certain states to be quarantined for 24 days to go arrival.

Quarantine applies to people who come from states with a positive test rate greater than 10 per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average or with a positive rate of 10% or greater over seven days.

European countries seemed on track to reopen their shared borders by July 1, and their EU representatives discussed the criteria for removing restrictions for visitors from outside Europe. In Greece, aviation officials visited regional airports that will be open for direct international flights on July 1.

Americans are unlikely to enter EU countries in the coming weeks, given that the pandemic flares up in the US and President Donald Trump’s ban on Europeans entering the United States.

The world’s financial markets were rattled by the setbacks in the fight against the pandemic, which clouded the prospects for the recovery of economies that were in the worst decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Asian stocks fell Thursday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 700 points overnight, down 2.7% and the broader S&P 500 fell 2.6%.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that the number of cases on the continent has risen to more than 336,000, up 10,000 from a day earlier. The CDC chief of Africa said the pandemic on the continent with 54 countries “is gaining momentum” while the shortage of test and medical equipment remains high.

Alarmed, some states are on the move to ensure more consistent use of face masks and other anti-virus measures.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ordered people to wear masks in public while the daily number of hospitalizations and new cases stuck with the administration. In Florida, several counties and cities have recently established mask requirements.

Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said he is concerned that states will squander what time they are to face a much bigger crisis.

“We’re still talking about subtlety, we’re still debating whether to wear masks or not and still don’t understand that a vaccine won’t save us,” he said.

In Paris, the iconic Eiffel Tower reopened for the first time on Thursday for visitors after the longest ever peacetime closure: 104 days. But enjoying the view from the top takes some effort: the elevator that normally takes visitors up the 324-meter-high wrought-iron structure remains closed, so for now, people have to go up the stairs.

“It is very special, very special because it is only the Parisians,” says Annelies Bouwhuis, a 43-year-old visitor from the Netherlands. “We have seen many Parisians enjoy their city and their parks without all the tourists.”

Skyscrapers dotted Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, ended a month-long night curfew and said in a tweet that there would be ‘all day and night off’ as long as people wore masks and kept social distance.

In China, where the virus first appeared late last year, an outbreak in Beijing was found to have been brought under control. China reported 19 recently confirmed cases across the country during mass tests in the capital.

South Korea was still struggling to quell an outbreak there and reported 28 new cases on Thursday, mostly associated with nightlife, churches, a massive e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sales. But the numbers didn’t reach the hundreds of new cases every day in late February and early March.

More than 9.4 million people worldwide have been declared infected and nearly 500,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins’ census. Experts say these numbers are low due to limited testing and missed mild cases.

Dr. WHO emergency chief Michael Ryan said that when countries reach their peak infection rate, it depends entirely on what people do.

“There are no magical answers. There are no spells here. You can’t split this up, “Ryan told reporters in Geneva.” We must act on every level. ‘


Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.


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