Spain has become the first nation in Western Europe to exceed a half-million COVID-19 total infections, as the total number of cases around the world surged to 27.3 million, including 893,000 deaths.
Data from Spain’s Health Ministry showed a total of 525,549 cases as of Tuesday, including 29,516 deaths. In comparison, France has recorded 367,174 total infections and 30,732 deaths, while Britain has 352,451 total cases, including 41,643 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking project.
Spain imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns at the pandemic’s peak back in March, when the country’s hospitals were overwhelmed with new coronavirus patients and the number of fatalities exceeded more than 800 on a daily basis. The outbreak eventually was brought under control, but the number of new infections has steadily risen since the country began relaxing restrictions in July.
Some experts believe the rising COVID-19 infections are due to the country’s highly social culture, while others blame the recent surge on a lack of widespread contact tracing and a premature exit from lockdown.
In South Korea, thousands of physician trainees returned to work Tuesday after a nearly three-week walkout that has complicated the nation’s efforts to contain a new wave in COVID-19 infections.
The trainees went on strike on August 21 to protest the government’s medical reform scheme, which called for increasing the number of medical school students and opening new public medical schools. The walkout caused delays at major hospitals where new and resident doctors play a crucial role in emergency rooms and intensive care units.
South Korea has posted daily new COVID-19 infections in the hundreds since mid-August, averaging well over 300 a day at one point, but have fallen below 200 for the sixth consecutive day Tuesday.
In China, cause for celebration
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is praising the country’s response to the pandemic, which was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.
Speaking during a ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People Tuesday honoring four officials for their contributions during the outbreak, President Xi said China acted quickly to combat the virus in “an open, transparent, and responsible manner,” contradicting accusations by the United States and other Western nations that Beijing either downplayed or possibly covered-up the severity of the virus until it was too late and had spread beyond China’s borders.