New York battled to fend off a second wave of coronavirus infections with new restrictions on bars and restaurants Friday, as the pandemic rages across the US and global daily deaths topped 10,000 for the first time.
Cases are surging throughout America and Europe, with governments forced to take more drastic action despite fears about the devastation inflicted on their economies.
The disease has claimed almost 1.3 million lives worldwide and infected close to 53 million people since it first emerged in China in December.
In New York, the epicenter of the US’s spring outbreak but which has so far resisted a major resurgence, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all establishments licensed to sell alcohol to close at 10 pm.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned he may follow other major US cities and move schools to online only teaching from as early as Monday because the daily infection rate was approaching three percent after months hovering around one percent.
“We’ve got to take strong steps to fight back the second wave,” he told MSNBC.
Rates are even higher in many other cities and parts of the United States and Europe, with areas now recording more new virus cases than they had at the height of the first wave in March.
An AFP tally showed the world’s daily death toll from the illness eclipsed 10,000 on Friday.
America, the country hardest hit by COVID-19, registered a new daily high of more than 150,000 cases on Thursday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The US recorded 1,703 more deaths, up 0.7 percent, in the 24 hours to Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re going to have to shut everything down,” Michael Mina, a Harvard epidemiologist and immunologist told reporters.
“Thanksgiving will undoubtedly lead to a massive new explosion of cases if people don’t take it seriously,” he added.
Residents and business owners in New York, where almost 34,000 people have been killed by the virus statewide, fear another shutdown is coming.
“It would be devastating from an economic perspective but the goal is to save lives and if we have to do it then we have to do it,” said 32-year-old Ioana Simion, assistant manager of an Italian restaurant in Manhattan.
Chicago’s mayor has already issued a new stay-at-home advisory from November 16 because hospitals serving the poorest communities in the US’s third-biggest city are filling to breaking point.
The US has by far the worst death toll with almost 243,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins, ahead of Brazil on 164,281 and India on 128,668 dead.
The virus is also surging in Europe where authorities are maintaining confinement measures reintroduced in recent weeks.
Hospitals are treating more patients in France than during the first peak while Italy has seen the virus affect its less developed south—largely spared when the virus came from China at the start of the year.
Tiny Lithuania claimed the unwanted title of becoming the nation where the pandemic is advancing the fastest with a 79 percent increase in infections over the past week.
Salah tests positive
The number of cases also surged by 44 percent in Brazil and by 58 percent in Japan.
The latest wave of restrictions come with policymakers worried about how they can persuade people who had only returned to some sort of normal life a few months ago to lose certain freedoms once again.
An Ifop survey in France showed 60 percent of respondents admitting to flouting rules at least once by making up a false excuse to go out or meeting up with family and friends.
Governments are also worried about how long curbs can last without devastating economies that had only just begun to stir back to life.
Yet the news is not all gloom and doom.
Some economists believe the world is slowly learning to work from home and that the hit of new restrictions will not be as severe on many industries this time around.
G20 nations declared a “common framework” for an extended debt restructuring plan for coronavirus-ravaged developing countries.
Meanwhile World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was encouraged by the rapid progress toward a vaccine.
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced Monday that their vaccine had proven 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in Phase 3 trials involving more than 40,000 people.
President Donald Trump was due to deliver a vaccine update from the White House later Friday.
In sport, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty, the Egyptian Football Association announced.
© 2020 AFP
New York fights virus resurgence as global daily deaths top 10,000 (2020, November 13)
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