Second wave fears as China reports more new infections
Beijing (AFP) - China reported the highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in months on Sunday, with parts of Beijing still blocked. This warns of a second wave as more European countries are preparing to open their borders for travel.
The resurgence of shock from domestic infections has shaken China, where the disease appeared late last year, but was largely tamed by severe restrictions on movement that were later mimicked around the world.
There is also a grim glimpse of the difficulties the world will face in conquering COVID-19 - even though Europe is preparing for the summer vacation after an encouraging drop in contagion. Some countries will welcome visitors from other parts of the continent starting Monday.
Of the 57 new cases registered by the Chinese authorities, 36 were domestic infections in the capital, where a large food wholesale market in the center of the outbreak was closed and nearby housing developments blocked.
"The meat vendors had to close. This disease is really scary," said a fruit and vegetable seller named Sun in another central Beijing market, adding that there were fewer customers than normal.
Others were more confident. "As long as you're wearing a face mask, it should be fine ... Anyway, I have to buy food, right?" said buyer Song Weiming.
Worldwide, at least 429,000 people have died of respiratory complications, almost in the middle of a year in which countless lives have been affected by the pandemic in the global economy.
The total number of confirmed cases has doubled to 7.7 million in just over a month, and the disease is now spreading fastest in Latin America, where it threatens health systems and triggers political turmoil.
Brazil has the second highest number of virus deaths after the United States, exceeding the death toll in Britain. The Chilean Minister of Health resigned on Saturday because he caused a sensation over the actual number of deaths in the country.
There is no treatment for COVID-19 yet, but pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to supply an alliance of European countries with up to 400 million doses of a possible vaccine.
According to the federal government, AFP could develop a vaccine by the end of the year.
- Europe opens again -
Many European nations continue to lift painful barriers that have saved lives and forced casualties, but also withered the economy and caused misery to millions.
The EU recommended that the Member States reopen their borders fully on June 15, but the reopening of borders was far from being coordinated harmoniously.
Some like Poland have already done so, and people from other European Union countries have been allowed to visit, and Germany said it would end land border controls on Monday.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis traveled to the picturesque island of Santorini on Saturday to open his country's tourism season.
"Greece is ready to welcome tourists this summer by making health and safety a top priority for us," he said in English before a spectacular sunset.
France has announced that it will gradually open up to countries outside the Schengen border zone again in July. French President Emmanuel Macron will deliver a speech on Sunday detailing plans to further relax virus restrictions.
In another happy return to semi-normality, soccer superstar Lionel Messi re-emerged in Spain when Barcelona resumed its La Liga title challenge and defeated Real Mallorca 4-0 in an empty stadium.
Live sports also returned to New Zealand on Saturday, where there were no new coronavirus cases for 22 days. 20,000 rugby fans watched the Otago Highlanders defeat the Waikato Chiefs.
But even in the highly anticipated revival of global sport, there are shaky movements - Australian rugby league officials have postponed a top-level game on Sunday before the kick-off because of a coronavirus scare.
The World Health Organization said the pandemic in Africa is accelerating this week and Botswana’s capital Gaborone was banned on Saturday after new cases were discovered.
And in the United States, which had the highest COVID-19 deaths with over 115,000 people, more than a dozen states - including populous Texas and Florida - reported the highest daily case numbers of all time in recent days.
The rise is due to the fact that large protests against racism are raging across America and the world. Many protesters wear masks to protect themselves from the spread of the virus.
burs-kaf / rma
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