Saturday, 17 October 2020 09:09

WHO Warns of COVID-19 Spikes in Europe, Americas

Daily cases of COVID-19 have reached record highs around the world, particularly in Europe and the Americas, the World Health Organization said Friday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva that record-high numbers of cases were reported in each of the last four days.

“We must remember that this is an uneven pandemic,” said Ghebreyesus. “Countries have responded differently, and countries have been affected differently. Almost 70% of all cases reported globally last week were from 10 countries, and almost half of all cases were from just three countries.”

The United States had more new infections over a 24-hour period than any other country, with 63,610, increasing the country’s total Friday to a world-leading 8 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The U.S. also maintained its global lead in COVID-19 fatalities, with Johns Hopkins reporting nearly 218,500 dead.

Upticks in the U.S. are led by surging infection rates in the states of Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida and California, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins. A tally by the Associated Press shows cases are on the rise in 44 U.S. states.

India was home to 63,371 new cases Friday, according to Johns Hopkins, while there were also sharp increases in the number of infections in France, Brazil and Britain.

The WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters Friday that 80% of the countries in Europe are experiencing spikes in confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In Britain, where Johns Hopkins University reported nearly 19,000 new cases Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to force Greater Manchester to impose the country’s most stringent level of coronavirus restrictions after local officials refused to place restrictions on areas with high infection rates.

Malta announced it would order bars and clubs to close at 11 p.m. and make face masks mandatory to fight a rising number of coronavirus cases.

On Saturday, France will begin a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the region of Paris and at least seven other cities, including Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Lille, Rouen and Saint-Étienne. The curfew will remain in effect for at least four weeks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and governors of the country’s 16 states have agreed to impose a new round of nationwide restrictions after seeing record-high new COVID-19 cases. The restrictions include the early closure of bars and restaurants and limiting the number of people allowed to gather in public.

Merkel said Friday that a planned European Union summit on the 27-nation bloc’s China policy in Berlin next month has been canceled because of the resurgent pandemic.

Italy reported more than 10,000 new infections over the past 24 hours Friday, the highest daily number since the beginning of the country’s outbreak. Italy has the second-highest death toll in Europe after Britain, reporting more than 36,400 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in February.

In South Africa, officials reported Friday that coronavirus cases surpassed 700,000 amid fears of a second wave.

As of Friday evening, there were more than 39.2 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 1.1 million global COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

(VOA)

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