NEW DELHI (AP) – Governments intensified testing and carefully considered their next steps Monday as the number of recently confirmed coronavirus cases is rising in many countries. India reported 20,000 new cases on Monday, while the US confirmed more than 40,000 new infections for the third consecutive day.
As the infections increase along with summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, many governments are conducting more intensive tests and considering more aggressive measures, such as renewed closures to deal with new outbreaks.
The 20,000 new infections in India were a new daily record. Several states reset partial or full lockdowns after the total number of cases increased by nearly 100,000 in one week to 548,318.
While some states have tightened safeguards, in the hardest-hit regions of Maharashtra, including the financial capital of India, Mumbai and Delhi, home to the federal capital of New Delhi, most restrictions have eased, with restaurants, malls and parks that have reopened and public buses and shared rides are back on the road.
The United States, the worst affected country, reported 42,600 newly confirmed infections as of Saturday, totaling more than 2.5 million, or about a quarter of all more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to a note from Johns Hopkins University . Experts say that the actual numbers, both in the U.S. and worldwide, are likely to be much higher due to the large number of seemingly asymptomatic cases and testing difficulties.
Beaches closed and beer remained unused as Florida, Texas and other states withdrew their pandemic reopenings, requiring the use of masks in public places and closing restaurants and bars in hopes of preventing a revival.
Nearly 8.3 million of the approximately 21 million people have undergone a test in the Chinese capital in recent weeks following an outbreak in a wholesale market. The country had 12 new cases on Monday, including seven in Beijing, more than half that of the previous day, the National Health Commission reported.
The South Korean authorities reported 47 new cases as they struggled to curb outbreaks that had spread from Seoul to other regions.
Widespread testing and contact tracking helped curb South Korea’s first outbreak, finding hundreds of new cases a day in late February and early March. Most of those cases were in the vicinity of the city of Daegu, where many were connected to one congregation with thousands of members.
It has proved more difficult to detect recent broadcasts in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the 51 million people live in the country.
South Korean health officials have said they are willing to take stronger social distance measures – including banning all gatherings of more than 10 people, closing schools, quitting professional sports, and restricting activities of nonessential companies – if the daily increase in infections doubles more than twice a week.
Health authorities use what they describe as the world’s first saliva test for coronavirus in Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, Victoria, where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Monday that 75 people had tested positive in the state in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 2,099.
Brett Sutton, Victoria’s chief health officer, said the outbreak could get out of control as pandemic restrictions are easing elsewhere in Australia.
“I think it’s a real challenge now. I think we’re on the edge of managing it, ”said Sutton.
In the Philippines, local officials were under fire for allowing a street parade and dance in honor of John the Baptist during a religious weekend, despite banning quarantines against public gatherings.
Artists in native clothes and face masks danced during the night procession, which drew a large crowd in the village of Basak in Cebu, in the central Philippines.
The Philippines remains a Southeast Asian coronavirus hotspot with more than 35,000 confirmed infections, including 1,244 deaths. Restrictions have eased in many places to help save the ailing economy, but Cebu resumed a strict shutdown this month after new cases rose.
Some governments in Asia are continuing to resume a number of regional trips between countries where outbreaks of the virus appear to be limited.
But civil aviation authorities in the United Arab Emirates announced that they had suspended all flights to Pakistan until a ‘special laboratory’ could be set up to conduct coronavirus tests for people traveling from the country to the UAE.
The UAE’s state-run news agency WAM issued a statement late last Sunday from the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority announcing the decision.
Pakistan resumed international travel earlier this month, although critics said airport precautions were limited and ineffective. Last week, Pakistani media reported that 27 passengers traveling from Pakistan arrived in Hong Kong and tested positive for COVID-19. The passengers had been pulled through the UAE.
Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok.
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