Coronavirus cases are spiking from India to South Africa and Mexico in a clear indication the pandemic is far from over, while Russia and Brazil now sit behind only the United States in the number of reported infections, according to COVID-19 Information & Resources.
The surges come as much of Asia, Europe and scores of U.S. states have been easing lockdowns to restart their economies as new infections wane. U.S. autoworkers, French teachers and Thai mall workers are among hundreds of thousands of employees back at work with new safety precautions.
Russia reported a steady rise in new infections Tuesday, and new hot spots have emerged across the nation of about 147 million. Russia registered nearly 9,300 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to almost 300,000 infections, about half of them in Moscow. Authorities say over 2,800 people with COVID-19 have died in Russia, a figure some say is surely higher.
Some experts argue Russian authorities have been listing chronic illnesses as the cause of death for many who tested positive for the virus. Officials angrily deny manipulating statistics, saying Russia’s low death toll reflects early preventive measures and broad screening. Nearly 7.4 million tests have been conducted.
In Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg, a virus hot spot, all burials now must be with closed coffins as a precaution, irrespective of the cause of death. Previously the measure applied only to COVID-19 deaths.
Russia’s caseload is second only to that of the U.S., which has seen 1.5 million infections and over 90,000 deaths. The country’s prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, resumed work Tuesday after a bout of coronavirus.
Cases are still rising across Africa, where all 54 nations have seen confirmed infections for a total of over 88,000 cases and 2,800 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
South Africa has the highest number of cases at over 16,400 and nearly 290 deaths. Infections have increased dramatically in Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province, which now accounts for 61% of South Africa’s total.
Latin America has seen more than 480,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 31,000 dead. The highest number of cases is in Brazil, which became the world’s third worst-hit county Monday with more than 250,000 infections despite limited testing. Hospital officials reported that more than 85% of intensive care beds are occupied in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Some countries have seen encouraging signs reverse: Iran reported a steady drop in new infections through April, only to see them rise again in May.
But there is new hope after an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus yielded encouraging results, though in a small and extremely early test. Stocks rallied Monday on the news.
In a surprise announcement, President Donald Trump said he has been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to protect against the virus even though scientists say there is no evidence of its effectiveness against the disease and his own administration has warned it should be administered only in a hospital or research setting because of potentially fatal side effects.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has declared that a partial economic shutdown imposed in late March helped slow the outbreak and prevented the nation’s health care system from being overwhelmed. A week ago, he ended the nationwide lockdown.
He has given Russia’s 85 regions a free hand to determine how they will ease their own lockdowns, but some have been struggling. The mostly Muslim southern province of Dagestan has reported a spike in infections that left its hospitals overflowing.
In India, coronavirus cases surged past 100,000, and infections are rising in the home states of migrant workers who fled cities and towns during a nationwide lockdown when they lost their jobs. India is now seeing more than 4,000 new cases daily. States including West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Gujarat, the major contributors of India’s migrant labor, are showing major spikes in infections as the country’s lockdown rules have eased. More than 3,100 with COVID-19 have died, according to India’s Health Ministry.
And in densely populated Bangladesh, where authorities reported a record number of new positive tests at over 1,600, thousands of cars were on the streets of the capital, Dhaka, despite a lockdown. Authorities have relaxed some rules and allowed shops to open ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
In Latin America, intensive care units in the Chilean capital of Santiago have been beyond 90% capacity for days, and officials warned that intensive care staff members are reaching their limits.
“They can’t keep going forever, no matter how many beds or ventilators there are,” said Claudio Castillo, a professor of public policy and health at the University of Santiago.
Infections are also increasing in poor areas of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where authorities relaxed strict lockdown measures last week, allowing some businesses to open and children to walk outside on weekends.
Colombia struggled with an outbreak in Leticia, a city on the border with Brazil, where hospitals were overwhelmed and patients were being sent to commandeered hotels. Colombia has recorded about 16,300 confirmed cases and close to 600 dead.
In Europe and in the United States, which has seen 36 million Americans file for unemployment, economic concerns dominated the political landscape.
Unemployment claims in Britain jumped 69% in April, the government reported Tuesday. European car sales collapsed by an unprecedented 76% last month.
An experimental vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. triggered hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers. They were found to have antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Much bigger studies on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness are planned. Worldwide, about a dozen vaccine candidates are in or near the first stages of testing.
More than 4.8 million people worldwide have been infected and over 318,000 deaths have been recorded, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts believe is too low for several reasons. (VOA)
As the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a standstill, and everything becomes virtual, people are increasingly turning to their screens for everything from family gatherings to board meetings, cooking lessons to daily workout routines, and even for touring the world.
The Rainbow Nation of South Africa has been asking travellers to stay home now, so that they can travel later. In the meanwhile, those who want a glimpse of the breathtaking nation in their living rooms, can partake in many virtual tours.
Kruger National Park
South Africa is home to numerous game reserves, each offering its own distinctive brand of game viewing. However, the world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. It is South Africa’s most exciting African safari destination and offers a variety of experiences such as wilderness trails, self-drive adventures and safaris.
Given the lockdown, virtual LIVE safaris have been made available to viewers from across the world. This virtual show also enables you to interact with an expert game ranger in real time! Safari vehicles, guides on foot, drones, balloons, rovers and remote cams all roam the terrains of the national park, to bring the best possible safari viewing experience to homes.
LIVE safari tours are available twice a day – sunrise safari at 9:30 am and sunset safari at 7:00pm IST, and can be viewedon WildEarth’s YouTube channel.
City of Cape Town
The Western Cape – flanked by the stunning Table Mountain on one side, and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on the other – houses the captivating legislative capital of South Africa: Cape Town. Rightly known as the Mother City, Cape Town is as diverse as it is enchanting. It is where travellers can feel perfectly in tune with the pulse of new South Africa.
The main attraction of Cape Town is, of course, the famous Table Mountain, a natural plateau that rises over 1000 meters over the sea level and literally hangs over Cape Town, creating a lively background and this very special pleasant climate. It is a symbol and a calling card for the city – featuring on its flag. Also, one constellation in the South Hemisphere is named after it!
Catch an aerial panoramic tour of the cityat www.airpano.com
Robben Island, near Cape Town
Nelson Mandela spent 18 immensely challenging years in prison on this little island situated less than 5 miles off the coast of Cape Town and yet emerged from it filled with forgiveness instead of hatred. Robben Island is now a World Heritage site and museum. Although from the 17th to the 20th century the island was a place of imprisonment – today it is a beacon of hope and a place where visitors can gain some insight into the life and times of Nelson Mandela and fellow freedom fighters.
Google offers a narrated tour – complete with a visit to Mandela’s 6.5 x 6.5 foot cell – led by Vusumsi Mcongo, an anti-Apartheid activist who was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1978-1990.
Since opening its doors in 1915, JAG’s Lutyens home on the edge of Joubert Park has remained at the epicentre of the Johannesburg’s art establishment. JAG boasts the largest public collection of modern and contemporary art on the sub-Saharan Africa.
It houses collections of 17th-century Dutch paintings, 18th- and 19th-century British and European art, 19th-century South African works, a large contemporary collection of 20th-century South African and international art, and a print portfolio containing works from the 15th century to the present.
Current primary curatorial focus is on contemporary African and South African art. Catch it online on Google Arts and Culture. (IANS)
South Africa has declared a “national state of disaster” because of COVID-19. This is the latest breaking news around the world.
“Given the scale and the speed at which the virus is spreading, it is now clear that no country is immune from the disease or will be spared its severe impact,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday.
South Africa has 61 cases of the disease. Ramphosa said 50 of the cases were contracted by people who had traveled abroad, but the rest were contracted within South Africa. “It is concerning that we are now dealing with internal transmission of the virus,” he said.
The president said the disease could have a “potentially lasting” effect on South Africa.
In an effort to limit South Africans’ exposure to the COVID-19, South Africa has imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries. Those countries include Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. The ban will begin March 18, the president said.
In addition, South Africa closed 35 of its 53 land ports Monday. (VOA)