Virus continues to surge globally

Source:AFP Published: 2020/6/16 17:23:41

With 8 million infected worldwide, pathogen shows no sign of slowing

Human Rights Council president, Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, presides over a UN Human Rights Council session after it was interrupted in March over the coronavirus pandemic, on Monday in Geneva. The UN's top rights body Monday agreed to a request from African countries to urgently debate racism and police brutality this week following unrest in the US. (See story on Page 16.) Photo: AFP

More than 8 million people have now been infected with coronavirus worldwide, and over 435,000 have died, according to an AFP count based on official figures.

The virus is surging in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the death toll passed 80,000 - the majority in Brazil, which has the second-highest number of infections and deaths in the world, after the US.

Iran, India and Saudi Arabia have also reported worrying increases in deaths and infections, adding to concern the world still faces a long fight against COVID-19.

Caseloads have declined recently across many parts of Europe, and governments are keen to ease lockdowns that have saved lives but devastated economies and taken a psychological and emotional toll.

Belgium, France, Germany and Greece were among the countries that lifted border restrictions on Monday. 

The European Union (EU) launched an app, "Re-open EU" - available in 24 languages - to help travelers find out which EU countries they can enter.

The crisis has upended countless lives and ravaged the global economy - and has yet to peak in many places.

In Latin America, the latest epicenter, the grim death toll has been accompanied by devastating economic news.

Peru reported its economy shrank by over 40 percent year-on-year in April.

Chile meanwhile extended its state of emergency by three months, two days after the health minister resigned amid controversy and confusion over the country's rising death toll.

There was mixed news from the US, which recorded its lowest daily death toll since March: 385, according to Johns Hopkins University.

It was the second consecutive day the US toll came in below 400. However, the US remains the hardest-hit country in the world by far, with more than 116,000 deaths.

Some states have seen new flare-ups recently, but US President Donald Trump's administration insists there will be no new economic shutdown even if a second wave arises.

A return to normal still looks distant. Organizers postponed the Oscars by two months, until April 25, 2021, and Major League Baseball's commissioner said he was no longer confident the 2020 season would be played.

Iran, the Middle East's worst-hit country, warned it might have to reimpose tough measures to ensure social distancing, after reporting more than 100 deaths for a second straight day.

The total number of deaths in Saudi Arabia topped 1,000 amid a new rise in infections just weeks before the annual hajj pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites.

In India, officials said 15 million people in the city of Chennai and neighboring districts would go back under lockdown, as cases surged there.

The rise in infections in the country of 1.2 billion people has highlighted the precarious state of its healthcare system. 



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