Some countries which have eased social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions are seeing a resurgence in cases of COVID-19 as case numbers across the globe continue to rise.
In Spain, authorities in the state of Catalonia urged over 96,000 people in three towns to stay home Sunday – shortly after they ordered nearly 4 million residents, including those in the capital of Barcelona, to stay home.
In Australia’s state of Victoria, which includes the city of Melbourne, residents have been ordered to wear a mask in public or risk paying a fine. Sunday’s announcement by Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews follows a partial lockdown implemented in the state on July 9.
Hong Kong’s premier Carrie Lam said Sunday that the territory had reported its highest one-day increase – over 100 new infections – since the pandemic began. Lam said non-essential civil servants would be asked to work from home, describing the situation as “really critical” with “no sign” it was coming under control.
On Saturday, for the second day in a row, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record increase in coronavirus cases worldwide, with nearly 260,000 new cases in 24 hours. The previous record, on Friday, recorded nearly 238,000 cases.
As of Saturday evening, WHO tallied just more than 593,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That is an increase of more than 7,300, the largest one-day increase since mid-May. The daily death total had been averaging about 4,800 in July. Other tallies put the death toll at more than 600,000.
The biggest increases were in the United States, with nearly 72,000 cases; Brazil, with nearly 45,500 cases; India with nearly 35,000 and nearly 14,000 in South Africa.
U.S. President Donald Trump is reported to be attempting to block any money for coronavirus testing or contact tracing in a new coronavirus relief bill that lawmakers are negotiating, according to media reports. He is also seeking to block billions of dollars that for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
In Brazil, South America’s hardest-hit country, President Jair Bolsonaro said Saturday that measures to curb the spread of the virus are suffocating the economy.
Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for the virus, said in a statement that Brazil’s economy is expected to shrink 6.4% this year.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture that the COVID-19 pandemic “is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: the lie that free markets can deliver health care for all, the fiction that unpaid care work is not work, the delusion that we live in a post-racist world, the myth that we are all in the same boat.”
In China, where the global pandemic began late last year, officials in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, say they have entered a “wartime mode” Saturday, with gatherings suspended and visits restricted. More than 600 flights, about 80% of the typical daily total at Urumpqi’s airport, were canceled.
Xinjiang, where most of China’s Uighur ethnic minority lives, had been able to avoid most of the pandemic. As of Saturday, the region reported 40 cases, which included 23 asymptomatic cases. Nearly 270 people were under medical observation, according to the regional health commission.
"The epidemic situation is generally controllable," Rui Baoling, director of the disease control and prevention center in Urumqi, was quoted as saying to state media.
A South Korean study suggests that children between the ages of 10 –19 can transmit the coronavirus like adults, but children under 10 pose less of a risk for transmitting it, but they are still capable of transmission.
In Iran, the Middle East’s hardest hit country, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that as many as 25 million Iranians may be infected with the coronavirus. As of Saturday, official confirmed infections stand at nearly 272,000, with deaths at nearly 14,000.
The figure Rouhani cited, an estimate from a health ministry report, would amount to more than 30% of Iran’s population.
For the next week, the capital, Tehran, will be under restrictions including banning religious and cultural functions, closing boarding schools, cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks and zoos. And starting Sunday, the southwestern Khuzestan province will be under a three-day lockdown.
One of the province’s 22 cities and towns, Behbahan, was the scene Thursday of economic protests.
Also on Saturday, Canada told the Toronto Blue Jays the team will have to play its home games elsewhere. The federal government said Major League Baseball’s plan to use Rogers Centre runs the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
The Canadian government extended the closure of its border with the U.S. until August 21 for nonessential travel. The team had hoped for an exemption to the 14-day quarantine mandated for anyone entering Canada, making it difficult for the team to cross back and forth across the border for games.