As the United States passed 5,000 coronavirus deaths, the mayor of the Los Angeles urged people in the country’s second-largest city to wear masks in public.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said people should not use scarce medical-grade masks that are needed by health professionals but said utilizing cloth masks would help reduce the spread of the virus.
U.S. federal health officials have so far not recommended people wear masks.
Garcetti also said wearing a mask is not an invitation for people to “suddenly all go out,” and that they should be staying home except for essential tasks such as shopping for food.
Worldwide cases are on the verge of eclipsing 1 million, with 50,000 deaths. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the rapid escalation.
He also highlighted concerns about extra pressures felt by the poorest and most vulnerable people in areas put under lockdown orders and called for help to developing countries that may not have the resources to scale up social welfare programs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that anyone can be a coronavirus carrier even if they aren’t showing any symptoms.
The CDC affirmed a study from Singapore that says 10 percent of new cases were spread by people who showed no signs of being sick. The agency says the study reinforces the need for social distancing.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, himself in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus, said in a video message that Britain would be “massively increasing testing” as the key to ultimately defeating the virus.
Italy has been the hardest-hit country in terms of deaths, with more than 13,000. Its leaders announced Wednesday an extension of lockdown orders in hopes of continuing trends of fewer new infections to control the outbreak there.
Spain, which has also been under strict lockdown for weeks after the virus quickly spread, announced Thursday its deaths exceeded 10,000, making it the second country to pass that level.
Belgium has experienced a large number of cases relative to its size, reporting Thursday it confirmed more than 15,000 cases thus far with a surge past 1,000 deaths. With a population of 11.4 million people, Belgium sits in or near the top 10 worldwide for both figures.
In Mexico, the country’s foreign ministry urged Mexicans residing in other countries – particularly the United States – not to travel home to visit family right now due to the risk of importing cases.
Israel’s health ministry announced Thursday that its leader, Yaakov Litzman, has tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation.