BANGKOK (AP) – Governments and companies are raising precautionary measures as coronavirus cases rise to new levels in parts of the US and around the world, potentially wiping out two months of progress.
Indonesia would exceed the 50,000 mark for confirmed infections on Thursday. In Melbourne, health professionals planned to go door to door to test more than 100,000 residents in a corona virus 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 said they would screen from house to house for the next two weeks. Because the city’s hospitals were overwhelmed, military personnel provided care in makeshift medical departments made from railroad cars.
India reported a record high of 16,922 cases on Thursday, bringing the national total to 473,105, with nearly 15,000 deaths.
Actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are believed to be much higher for a number of reasons, including limited testing.
World financial markets were rattled by the setbacks in the fight against the pandemic, which clouded the prospects for the recovery of the 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%.
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. Case numbers both nationally and in Beijing rose by just a few digits from Wednesday.
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.
Some governments are considering more aggressive measures to deal with new outbreaks, but in other places such precautions have been reversed.
Skyscrapers dotted Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, ended a month-long night curfew, with the city-state media agency tweeting that there would be “ all day and night free ” as long as people wore masks and kept social distance.
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.
Americans are unlikely to be admitted, given the outbreak of the US pandemic and President Donald Trump’s ban on Europeans entering the United States.
U.S. hospital administrators and health experts warned on Wednesday that politicians and an audience fed up with being locked up are letting disaster happen. 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.
New York Government Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Government Phil Murphy, and Connecticut Government Ned Lamont have announced that their states, which were devastated by early outbreaks that appear to be under control, will require travelers from certain states to travel 24 days in quarantine.
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.
Several states set one-day case records this week. They include Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Oklahoma. Some also broke hospitalizations, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.
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 deaths.
“People became complacent,” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of the Houston Methodist hospital system. “And frankly, it comes back and bites us.”
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.
The Nevada governor has announced that the state requires the use of facial coverings in public places to prevent increasing infections after casinos, restaurants, and other businesses have reopened.
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.
More than 9.4 million people worldwide have been declared infected and nearly 500,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins’ census.
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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