An outbreak of coronavirus infections traced to a wholesale market put a Beijing district in a “wartime emergency mode,” Saturday as the confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide neared 8 million with more than 428,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
In the Fengtai district of Beijing, 45 people out of 517 tested positive, Chu Junwei, a district official, told a briefing, putting 11 neighborhoods around the market, the largest wholesale agricultural market in Asia, on lockdown.
"Everyone's very stressed," an elderly driver told Agence France-Presse outside a fenced-off neighborhood in southwest Beijing. "There are cases living in there. It's real."
Beijing officials plan to test 10,000 people for infection. And a city spokesman said sports events and plans to reopen schools Monday will be suspended and the National Theatre and Yonghe temple will be closed.
In New Zealand, which hasn’t had a new case of coronavirus in three weeks, an entirely different scene played out. More than 20,000 fans were allowed into a sports stadium, no masks or social distancing required, to watch rugby.
“It's massive,” the country's sports minister, Grant Robertson, told the Associated Press. “It's a world first and it’s a payoff for all the hard work of 5 million New Zealanders.”
A European pharmaceutical giant reached agreement Saturday with an alliance of European countries to supply those nations with up to 400 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca struck a deal with the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, established by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to accelerate production of a vaccine being tested by the University of Oxford that may be available by year’s end.
Saturday’s agreement aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries that wish to participate in the initiative.
AstraZeneca previously reached similar deals with Britain, the Serum Institute of India, the U.S., the coalition of for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine of Alliance.
India, which has more than 308,000 coronavirus cases, reported its largest surge in new COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period Saturday. The 11,458 new infections surpassed the previous record of 10,956 cases reported Friday. Deaths rose by 386 to 8,884.
The surge comes as India has reopened stores, shopping malls, manufacturing plants and places of worship. The country’s two-month lockdown that began in March has been eased, with restrictions remaining largely intact in high-risk areas.
India’s record surge of new cases propels the massive South Asian nation to fourth place worldwide in the total number of coronavirus cases, surpassed only by the U.S., Brazil and Russia.
A major study forecasts millions sinking into extreme poverty, with South Asia – India in particular – seeing the largest number, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A report by the United Nations University says the economic fallout could plunge 395 million people into conditions in which they are forced to live on $1.90 a day or less – the definition of extreme poverty.
A separate World Bank report this week put that number between 70 million and 100 million people.
“The outlook for the world’s poorest looks grim unless governments do more and do it quickly and make up the daily loss of income the poor face,” one of the U.N. report’s authors, Andy Sumner, said. “The result is progress on poverty reduction could be set back 20-30 years and making the UN goal of ending poverty look like a pipe dream.”
Experts are appealing to economically powerful nations, such as the United States, to forgive the debts of developing countries that take a strong hit from the pandemic.