U.S. grapples with record cases as WHO traces origins of COVID-19 in China

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The United States opened the week grappling with the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, after Florida shattered the national record for a state’s largest single-day increase in new confirmed cases and the World Health Organization warned that the pandemic is worsening globally and that “there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future.”

The WHO director general said that while numerous countries have now brought their previously explosive outbreaks under control, namely those in Europe and Asia, “too many countries are headed in the wrong direction.”

Without naming specific politicians, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also chastised political leaders for their “mixed messages” amid the coronavirus outbreaks, saying that they are “undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust.”

“If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go,” Ghebreyesus said Monday. “It’s going to get worse and worse and worse.”

WATCH | Safest way to return children to school is to keep virus numbers low, says WHO:

Communities that want to open schools need a broad effort to suppress the coronavirus, and not play ‘whack-a-mole’ with emergencies, says WHO health emergencies lead, Dr. Mike Ryan. 1:04

Deaths from the virus have been rising in the U.S., especially in the south and west, though they are still well below the numbers reached in April, according to a recent Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. 

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday attributed the current surge in coronavirus cases to the United States not having shut down completely to snuff out outbreaks of the disease.

“We did not shut down entirely and that’s the reason why when we went up,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with Stanford Medicine.

“We started to come down and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high — about 20,000 infections a day. Then as we started to reopen, we’re seeing the surges that we’re seeing today as we speak in California — your own state — in Arizona, in Texas, in Florida and several other states.”

In Florida, where parts of Walt Disney World reopened Saturday, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases, and 45 deaths were recorded, according to state Department of Health statistics reported Sunday.

WATCH | Florida shatters COVID-19 case record as Disney World reopens:

Florida hits a new record in daily COVID-19 cases just as Disney World reopens and as U.S. officials insist they’re not losing the battle against COVID-19. 1:56

California had the previous record of daily positive cases — 11,694, set on Wednesday.

The numbers come at the end of a record-breaking week as Florida reported 514 fatalities — an average of 73 per day. Three weeks ago, the state was averaging 30 deaths per day.

Researchers expect deaths to rise in the U.S. for at least some weeks, but some think the count probably will not go up as dramatically as it did in the spring because of several factors, including increased testing.

A patient is tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru site in Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

The coronavirus was also affecting Americans abroad.

In Japan, more than 30 Marines tested positive at the Futenma U.S. air station on Okinawa, where infections among American service members have rapidly risen to more than 90 since last week. Okinawa is home to more than half of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan.

Confirmed cases also have been found at three other Okinawa bases: 22 at Camp Hansen, one at Camp Kinser and another one at Camp McTureous. Officials said the movements of people at Futenma and Camp Hansen have since been restricted and large-scale virus testing is being conducted.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

In Ontario, a large swath of the province will move to Stage 3 of reopening on July 17, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2 for now.

The province’s plan will allow for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds — albeit with significant health and safety measures in place, including physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and Plexiglas barriers.

“Every corner of our province is getting back to work,” Premier Doug Ford said at a Monday news conference. “Today, we are ready to take the next step.”

WATCH | Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces Phase 3 reopening details:

Dine-in restaurants, bars, movie theatres and gyms are among the businesses allowed to reopen in parts of Ontario on Friday, according to Premier Doug Ford. 3:25

At the U.S. border, the Public Health Agency of Canada is adding on-site employees at 36 points of entry to bolster screening for COVID-19. 

Canada and the U.S. are still in talks on the future of a ban on non-essential travel between the two nations and will have more to say in the coming days, Trudeau said. The ban, introduced in March, has been extended several times and is due to expire on July 21.

As of 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 107,807 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 71,645 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,821.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

In Asia, two WHO experts were in China for a mission to trace the origin of the pandemic. The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. Beijing had been reluctant to allow a probe but relented after scores of countries called on the WHO to conduct a thorough investigation.

China has argued that the virus might have originated outside of China and has angrily denied allegations that it covered up the scale of the outbreak as infections first began to spread.

Meanwhile, India — which has the most confirmed virus cases after the United States and Brazil — on Monday reported a record daily surge of 28,701 new cases reported in the past 24 hours. Authorities in several cities are reinstating strict lockdowns after attempting to loosen things up to revive an ailing economy

Workers disinfect a residential building after a resident tested positive for COVID-19 in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, on Monday. (Mukhtar Khan/The Associated Press)

In Europe, France was considering requiring the use of masks in all indoor public spaces amid a small rise in virus infections and a big drop in public vigilance.

Greece was seeking a ban on church and village fairs and tighter tourism-related checks following a recent increase in confirmed coronavirus cases.

In Spain, a judge has overturned a decision by the Catalan regional government to confine over 140,000 people to only leaving their homes for work and other essential activities, arguing that only central authorities can issue a lockdown that restricts freedom of movement.

Health-care workers wearing PPE wait outside a field hospital set up for COVID-19 cases in Lleida, Spain, on Monday. (Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images)

In Africa, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, said Sunday that the country would reimpose a ban on alcohol sales to reduce the volume of people needing emergency care so that hospitals have more beds free to treat COVID-19 patients.

South Africa, which accounts for over 40 per cent of all the reported coronavirus cases on the continent, is also reinstating a nighttime curfew to reduce the number of traffic accidents and has made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks in public.

“We are taking these measures fully aware that they impose unwelcome restrictions on people’s lives. They are, however, necessary to see us through the peak of the disease,” Ramaphosa said in a letter to the nation on Monday.

“There is no way that we can avoid the coronavirus storm, but we can limit the damage that it can cause to our lives.”

People walk past an advert promoting COVID-19 precautions in the township of Soweto, South Africa, on Monday. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, Mexican Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said on Monday he had recovered from COVID-19 after his latest test results for the virus came through negative and that he was returning to work.

Herrera made the announcement on Twitter, some two and a half weeks after he first revealed he had contracted coronavirus.

Several high-ranking officials in the Americas have tested positive for COVID-19, including Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and Interim Bolivian President Jeanine Anez.

Published at Mon, 13 Jul 2020 11:14:02 +0000

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