Author Topic: Coronavirus around the globe  (Read 5226 times)

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Car Crashes Deadlier as Drivers Speed During Lockdowns
(Reuters) - Coronavirus lockdowns led to huge reductions in traffic and fewer car crashes this spring, but as drivers sped up on quieter roads, the collisions became deadlier in several cities, a Reuters analysis shows.

In New York City, the ratio of fatal crashes to all collisions rose 167% in April from a year ago. The increase was 292% in Chicago and 65% in Boston. Across the ocean, in Madrid, Spain, the rate of fatal collisions was 470% higher.

Even as traffic plummeted across the United States, roads became more lethal, with a 37% increase in fatality rates per miles driven in April, compared to the same month last year, the National Safety Council said this week. Last month, the group said in a statement that the lockdowns and reduced road congestion had created an "apparent open season on reckless driving." In Britain, police documented instances of people driving at what they described as exceptionally high speeds of over 130 miles (209 km) per hour.

In the U.S. state of Ohio, researchers found that while average speeds were up only slightly from March 28 to April 19 in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton, the amount of extreme speeding increased dramatically.

"The level of extreme speeding is really shocking," said Harvey Miller, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at The Ohio State University. "What we’re seeing here -- the fact that there's less traffic and more speeding -- I think that's evidence that traffic is a great controller of speed."

Similar increases in speeding have been reported in Australia, Belgium and Denmark, according to reports compiled by the European Transport Safety Council.

LESSONS LEARNED

The road death toll, to be sure, has fallen as traffic ebbed in many places. In New York City, collisions plummeted in April to 4,103 from 16,808 a year ago, a 76% drop. During the same period fatal collisions decreased from 20 to 13, a smaller 35% decrease. But the number of fatal collisions per 1,000 crashes increased from 1.2 per 1,000 crashes to 3.2 per 1,000 crashes.

"When two vehicles collide at 20 miles per hour, that results in a fender-bender," said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for safe streets and better biking, walking and public transit options in New York City. "When two vehicles and a pedestrian collide at 40 miles per hour, that results in a funeral."

Cutrufo said the lessons learned during lockdowns should be used to rethink street design. Wide streets that look like highways attract fast driving, and more streets should be closed for cars so that people can use that space to safely bike, walk, sit and run.

Police in New York said they were aware of the increased speeds and had deployed additional patrols. Data from traffic analytics company INRIX shows speeds in New York City increased 44% from 28 miles (45 km) per hour in April last year to 41 miles (66 km) per hour this April.

In London, nine people died in traffic collisions in April, about the same as past years, according to data from Transport for London, a government body responsible for the city's transport system. Collision counts are not yet available, but the number of fatalities remained steady even as the number of miles traveled in the British capital declined 69% from February to April, according to data provided by INRIX, which collects information on traffic and speed from fleet trucks, car manufacturers, GPS, loop detectors, parking meters and other sources.

Andy Cox, a detective superintendent who investigates fatal and serious road collisions for London's Metropolitan Police, has taken to social media to implore drivers to slow down and not risk crashes that could put pressure on Britain's National Health Service.

"They don't think anything will happen to them and they are not considering their fellow road users and the wellbeing of them," he told Reuters of drivers who speed. "It's totally unacceptable. We need to recognize that speed is the biggest factor in fatal collisions and serious, life-changing collisions."

Speeding offenses increased 187% in London during the lockdown compared to the same period a year ago, Cox said, but extreme speeding offenses increased even more -- by 236%. Police documented speeds of 134 miles (216 km) per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone, 110 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone and 73 miles per hour in a 20-mile-per-hour zone.

Across the English Channel, collisions across mainland France fell from 4,234 in April 2019 to 1,099 in April this year, a 74% drop. During the same period, fatalities decreased from 233 to 103, a 56% drop.

Despite the overall drop in collisions and fatalities, the fatality rate among crashes was 70% higher.

usnews.com
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Virus surges in U.S. South, West; Pence cancels campaign events
 (Reuters) – Five states hit record daily highs for coronavirus cases on Saturday, and Vice President Mike Pence canceled planned campaign events in hard-hit areas as the virus surged in the U.S. South and West, halting economic reopening plans.

The number of confirmed U.S. cases of the virus rose to more than 2.5 million on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally. Over 125,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, the highest known death toll of any country in the world.

Florida on Saturday morning reported 9,585 new infections in the last 24 hours, a record for a second day, while Arizona recorded 3,591 new cases of COVID-19, matching its prior record on Tuesday.

Pence canceled planned events to campaign for President Donald Trump’s re-election next week in Florida and Arizona out of “an abundance of caution,” campaign officials told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Nevada on Saturday disclosed 1,099 new cases, double its previous record, while South Carolina and Georgia reported 1,604 and 1,990 new infections, respectively, also marking new daily highs.

The surge in cases has been most pronounced in a handful of Southern and Western states that reopened earlier and more aggressively, serving as a warning to the potentially illusory nature of any perceived progress in controlling the virus.

For the third consecutive day, new U.S. cases rose by more than 40,000 on Saturday. The United States has now seen 2.52 million cases since the pandemic began, according to the Reuters tally.

The worsening contagion in some parts of the United States has created a split-screen effect, with New York and its neighboring Northeastern states, which were hit hardest initially, reporting declining cases and forging ahead with reopening plans.

Kami Kim, director of the Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine at the University of South Florida, said her state’s leaders claimed victory too soon after lockdowns were lifted starting in early May, while giving off conflicting messages on face coverings by not wearing masks themselves.

“It was just complete denial by a huge swath of the politicians,” she said, predicting that the state may need to shut down again. “Unfortunately, our community still isn’t taking it very seriously. People aren’t wearing masks.”

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said on Saturday that his state would pause moving into the next stages of opening its economy as cases there rise.

In Texas, a state that was on the vanguard of letting people get back to work, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars across the state to close and required restaurants to limit indoor seating, acknowledging that in hindsight he had opened bars too soon.

Despite skyrocketing case numbers, both Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have not bowed to pressure to issue statewide mandates on wearing masks, opting to leave that decision to local municipalities. Both Abbott and DeSantis are Republican, the same party as Trump.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College in Houston, said he fears that daily cases in the Houston area could more than triple to 4,000 by mid-July, making it the main global hot spot by then.

“We need to implement more aggressive social distancing measures now,” the renowned vaccine scientist said.

At a briefing on Friday, DeSantis blamed the spike in infections on young people interacting more in the last few weeks, adding that they faced lower risk of dying than older people. Lending support to that view, Florida on Saturday reported 24 additional deaths, well off peaks in April when the elderly made up a larger proportion of cases.

metro.us
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China puts half a million people in lockdown as Beijing fights new COVID-19 clusterr
China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding the capital to contain a fresh coronavirus cluster on Sunday, as authorities warned the outbreak was still "severe and complicated".

After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in neighbouring Hebei province in recent weeks.

Health officials said Sunday that Anxin county -- about 150 kilometres from Beijing -- will be "fully enclosed and controlled", the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year.

Only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, the county's epidemic prevention task force said in a statement.

The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since mid-June and spurring the testing of millions of residents.

The outbreak was first detected in Beijing's sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies much of the city's fresh produce, sparking concerns over the safety of the food supply chain.

Nearly a third of the cases so far have been linked to one beef and mutton section in the market, where workers are being made to quarantine for a month, city officials said Sunday.

Businesses in Anxin county had supplied freshwater fish to the Xinfadi market, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Some 12 cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the county -- including 11 linked to Xinfadi, the state-run Global Times reported.

The new cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China.

The capital has mass-tested wholesale market workers, restaurant workers, residents of medium and high-risk neighbourhoods and delivery couriers over the past two weeks.

At a press conference on Sunday, officials said 8.3 million samples have been collected so far, of which 7.7 million have already been tested.

Testing has now expanded to include all employees of the city's beauty parlours and hair salons, the Global Times said.

Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters Sunday that "the epidemic situation in the capital is severe and complicated," warning that the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.

City officials have urged people not to leave Beijing, closed schools again and locked down dozens of residential compounds to stamp out the virus.

But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week the new outbreak had been "brought under control", and officials lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed on seven Beijing communities on Friday.

channelnewsasia.com
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Coronavirus hits all-time highs in parts of US

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Fauci says no guarantee U.S. will have effective COVID-19 vaccine, warns spread 'could get very bad'

(Reuters) - The United States should not bank on the availability of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, the government’s top infectious diseases expert said on Tuesday, and he warned that the daily surge in cases could more than double if Americans fail to take steps to get the virus under control.

California, Texas and several other states are reporting record increases in cases ... full article  reuters.com

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Americans' concerns about coronavirus jump as cases surge, Reuters/Ipsos poll shows

(Reuters) - Americans' anxieties over the spread of the novel coronavirus have risen to the highest level in more than a month, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, as the number of cases surged across the country, pushing the death toll to more than 127,000 people.

The June 29-30 public opinion poll found that 81% of American adults said they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned about the pandemic, the most since a similar poll conducted May 11-12.

Concerns appear to be rising the most among members of President Donald Trump's Republican Party, who have generally expressed less interest than others in wearing face masks or sheltering at home even as the pandemic has infected more than 2.6 million Americans.

About seven in 10 Republicans said in the latest poll they were personally concerned about the spread of the virus, up from six in 10 Republicans in polls conducted over the past few weeks. About nine in 10 Democrats said they are similarly worried, a level of concern that has not changed over the past few weeks.

The shift in public opinion comes as the number of coronavirus cases soars across the country, especially in states like Arizona, Texas and Florida that were slow to respond to the outbreak and have moved fairly swiftly to reopen their economies. Some of those states are now ratcheting back plans to reopen businesses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said on Tuesday that the number of coronavirus cases could more than double to 100,000 per day unless a full nationwide effort was undertaken to tamp down the resurgent virus.

The pandemic increasingly appears to have taken over the 2020 presidential campaign, eclipsing other priorities, according to the poll.

When asked about the "most important factor" determining their vote, 27% of respondents said it was the candidate's plan to help the nation recover from the coronavirus, compared with 21% who said it was the candidate's plan to create jobs and boost the economy.

Just weeks ago, it was the other way around. In a June 8-9 poll 26% said they wanted a candidate who was strong on the economy and 21% said they were looking for someone who could handle the coronavirus.

To that end, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, appears to have a slight advantage over Trump.

The poll found that 40% of Americans approve of the way Trump has responded to the coronavirus, while 56% disapproved. And 41% of adults thought Biden would be better at directing the country's response to the virus, while 34% said Trump would be better.

Overall, Biden has an advantage of 8 percentage points over Trump in support among registered voters. Biden had an edge of 10 points in a similar poll that ran last week.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,099 American adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 3 percentage points.

msn.com
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The Latest: U.S. virus cases rose by nearly 50% in June, led by states that reopened first
Coronavirus infections in the United States surged nearly 50 percent in June as states relaxed quarantine rules and tried to reopen their economies, data compiled Wednesday showed, and several states moved to reimpose restrictions on bars and recreation.

More than 800,000 new cases were reported across the country last month, led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California – bringing the nation’s officially reported total to just over 2.6 million, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

States that took an aggressive approach to reopening led the country in infection spikes – along with California, the nation’s most populous state, where leaders have been more cautious. California on Wednesday reported 110 new deaths, more than any other state.

The novel coronavirus continued its recent spread, especially in the South and Southwest. More than 52,000 new cases were reported in the United States on Wednesday, the highest total since the start of the pandemic, according to data collected by The Post. Record-shattering numbers of new cases were reported Wednesday in six states – California, Georgia, Texas, Alaska, North Carolina and Arizona.

California added 9,740 new cases to its official tally – a new daily high for the state. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, amid the recent spike in cases and hospitalizations after early success against the virus, on Wednesday ordered 19 counties to shut down all indoor services and activities before the holiday weekend, meaning that bars, restaurants and other businesses will remain open only outside.

Pennsylvania ordered protective masks to be worn in public, and New York City delayed the planned loosening of restrictions on indoor dining. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D, ordered the end of indoor service at bars through most of the state’s lower region, citing a spike in cases among younger people.

pressherald.com
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Re: Korea - Hospital beds running out fast
« Reply #97 on: July 04, 2020, 11:07:41 AM »
Patient surge puts fresh strain on hospitals in Gwangju
Five patients died waiting for hospital beds at peak of first wave.

Korean health officials said Friday that supply and staff shortages were straining disease control efforts, and urged increased public participation in social distancing to keep the number of active cases within medical capacity.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a briefing the renewed coronavirus surge was filling up hospital beds quickly in cities experiencing flare-ups, and that adherence to physical distancing was paramount to ease the shortages.

“We should act as though we have COVID-19 in social situations, and avoid engaging in activities that may put others at risk,” said the agency’s director Jung Eun-kyeong.

Hospital beds are running out fast in Gwangju, which confirmed 53 cases in the past week. Some 81.8 percent of beds at coronavirus-only hospitals there are currently occupied and all of its intensive care unit beds have already reached maximum capacity.

In a briefing held Thursday, Gwangju Mayor Lee Yong-sub said he had asked other municipal offices for available beds. As the majority of newly diagnosed patients in Gwangju are older adults, their chances of developing severe cases are high, he added.

“We are facing dire shortages of medical supplies and our health institutions are short-staffed,” he said.

Gwangju officials say they are wary of the catastrophe witnessed earlier in Daegu, formerly the country’s epicenter, being repeated in the city.

At least five people died while waiting for beds in Daegu and the nearby North Gyeongsang Province at the outbreak’s peak in late February and early March. At one point, as many as 2,270 patients there were denied immediate care and had to stay home, waiting to be admitted.

According to the KCDC’s daily situation report, there are 34 patients severely or critically sick with COVID-19 nationwide as of Friday afternoon. Thirteen of them have been administered with remdesivir, an experimental antiviral that can hasten recovery.

Korea added 63 more cases of COVID-19 in the 24-hour period ending midnight Thursday, raising the total tally to 12,967. Among them, 52 were locally transmitted and 11 were imported. Most -- 11,759, or 90.7 percent -- of those diagnosed have since been declared recovered and discharged from care. A further 926 patients are still undergoing treatment. So far, 282 people have died from the disease, leaving the fatality rate at 2.17 percent.

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Re: Coronavirus - Catalonia Curbs Movement of Over 200,000 People
« Reply #98 on: July 05, 2020, 12:06:38 AM »
Catalonia Curbs Movement of Over 200,000 People After Latest Coronavirus Outbreak
Spain has registered 205,545 COVID-19 cases and 28,385 deaths, making it one of the worst affected nations in Europe

The north-eastern region of Catalonia in Spain enforced a new coronavirus or COVID-19 lockdown on over 200,000 people on Saturday after many new outbreaks of the virus were detected.

Residents in Segria that includes the city of Lleida, are not going to be able to leave the area from 12 noon on Saturday but they will not be confined to their houses as was the case on the original strict lockdown of Spain in March.

"We have decided to confine Segria due to data that confirm too significant a growth in the number of COVID-19 infections," Catalan regional president Quim Torra told a news briefing. Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday, up from 3,551 the previous day.

Movement for work will be permitted, but from Tuesday workers entering or leaving the area will have to present a certificate from their employer. Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths, making it one of the worst affected countries in Europe. After imposing a strict lockdown on March 14, the government has been gradually easing restrictions in a multi-phase plan since early May.

ibtimes.sg
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Australia Locks Down High-Rise Homes, Affecting 3,000 Residents

Australia’s second-most populous state ordered nine public-housing towers with about 3,000 residents to be quarantined in an effort to contain coronavirus hot spots that led to a spike of new cases.

Only returning residents will be allowed to enter the buildings in Flemington and North Melbourne for at least five days while authorities test everyone who lives there, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

“There will be a massive logistical task to make sure those people are fed, given the support they need,” Andrews said.

The state recorded 108 new cases on Saturday, the second-highest daily increase, bringing the total to 509. Earlier in the week, Melbourne instituted a lockdown across sections of the city to contain the outbreak.

The length of the restrictions depends on the success at testing and tracking, Andrews said in a statement. Police will enforce the restrictions, it said.

Following a ban announced earlier this week on international flights into Melbourne, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Friday capped overseas arrivals into Sydney at 450 people a day from July 4 to July 17 due to strains on quarantine facilities.

Meanwhile, in Queensland, thousands of protesters were expected to join a Black Lives Matter march through the capital of Brisbane on Saturday as limits on public gatherings were eased in the state, according to the AAP.

Nationwide, virus cases have now climbed to 8,362, including Saturday’s total of 113, Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said at a separate briefing.

Top state and federal health officials plan to hold an emergency teleconference Saturday evening to respond to the case surge, Kelly said.

“This has been a trend now for the last week or more, and the number of cases rising in the northern and northwestern part of Melbourne is of great concern,” he said.

In addition to the quarantine at the public housing towers, Victoria also issued stay-at-home orders for North Melbourne postal codes covering suburbs including Flemington and Kensington

bnnbloomberg.ca
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Re: England's pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen (video)
« Reply #100 on: July 05, 2020, 09:39:02 AM »
England's pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen

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Philippines, Indonesia set grim Covid-19 records
Two of Thailand's regional neighbours set unwanted records in their Covid-19 tallies on Sunday.

The Philippines reported its biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases, adding 2,434 confirmed infections and taking the total count to 44,254, the health ministry said.

The ministry said the rise could be attributed to increased contact among people as the country began easing lockdown measures to help reduce the pandemic's damage to the economy.

The Philippines also recorded seven new deaths, the ministry said, bringing total fatalities to 1,297.

Meanwhile, Indonesia reported 82 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday in its highest daily tally, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said, taking the toll to 3,171.

Infections rose 1,607, for a total of 63,749 cases, he added.

bangkokpost.com
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Re: UK happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks
« Reply #102 on: July 06, 2020, 12:18:25 AM »
Drunk people can't socially distance: UK police federation chief


Revellers danced in the street the night pubs finally reopened. (Photo: AFP/Justin Tallis)

Britain's police said on Sunday (Jul 5) that revellers who packed London's Soho district the night pubs finally reopened made it "crystal clear" that drunk people cannot socially distance.

England's hospitality sector sprung back to life after a three-month coronavirus hiatus on what the media dubbed as either "Super Saturday" or "Independence Day".

Pubs and restaurants were allowed to start seating clients and barbers could get their clippers out for the first time since March.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced queries about why he decided to schedule the grand reopening for a Saturday instead of a potentially less chaotic Monday.

Johnson said on Friday that it would not have made much of a difference either way.

But the head of Britain's police federation said he ended up dealing with "naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks" while on shift.

"What was crystal clear is that drunk people can't/won't socially distance," John Apter told London radio.

He said his own police department in the southern city of Southampton "managed to cope".

"I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted," Apter said.

A scan of police reports from Saturday night showed a similar level of mischief-making across England.

Officers in the southwestern Devon and Cornwall region had logged up nearly 1,000 reports of "drink-related disorder and anti-social behaviour" by late Saturday.

There were also reports of illegal raves in London and the northeast that resulted in mass arrests as well as disorder in the north Midlands.

Pubs in Wales and Scotland will partially reopen by mid-July while those in Ireland have had table service since Friday.

GOVERNMENT ON DEFENSIVE

Britain's lockdown lasted longer and ended later than in most European countries because of a soaring death toll that is now the world's third highest.

The official fatality figure is around 44,000 and one in which COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate is higher than 50,000.

Either measure makes Britain's toll Europe's worst.

A safe reopening that averts the need for second lockdowns over large areas is seen as vital to Johnson's long-term success.

full article  channelnewsasia.com
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Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years
(Reuters) - The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday, following an outbreak of the coronavirus in his state.

The decision marks the first time the border with neighbouring New South Wales has been shut in 100 years - officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

The state reported 127 new COVID-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country’s total tally to 105.

“It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne as he announced the border closure.

The closure will, however, likely be a blow to Australia’s economic recovery as it heads into its first recession in nearly three decades.

Andrews said the decision to close the border, effective from 11.59 p.m. local time on Tuesday, was made jointly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Victoria’s only other internal border, with South Australia state, is already closed.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with just short of 8,500 cases so far, but the Melbourne outbreak has raised alarm bells. The country has reported an average of 109 cases daily over the past week, compared with an average of just 9 cases daily over the first week of June.

af.reuters.com
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Worried Thais in UK want to get out urgently, plead for more flights to bring them home
Desperate Thais in Britain are pleading for more flights to bring them back home, fearing a dreaded second wave of Covid-19 will soon overwhelm that country.

With the United Kingdom being one of the worst-hit nations in the world, worried Thais have submitted letters to the Thai government through the embassy in London, requesting an increase in flights to Thailand.

Dr Eakaphum Chumnanrabiamkit who represents Thais in the UK, submitted a letter to the Foreign Affairs Ministry through the Thai ambassador, revealing the hardship Thais are faced with as normal commercial flights have been banned or limited, resulting in a number of Thai citizens being unable to return home as originally planned.

“The number of people wanting to travel home has increased as life becomes more difficult for them. Some living in rented houses have seen their leases expire at the end of June, meanwhile those with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and even depression have an appointment with their doctors in July, but cannot return," he said.

"Some Thais have been stranded since February and March, and with their visas about to expire, it means they must live illegally in England. There are also cases of people with children who need to go back to study in Thailand. So I want the Thai government to hurry up and bring these people back,” Eakaphum said.

He claimed that the number of those who registered to return is high, but only two flights (of 600 people) have been allocated for this month and both are already full. He also claimed that other countries in comparison are running 3-4 daily flights.

"Another important reason is that from July 4, the British government has allowed hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars to reopen as normal and from today people will be able to travel in and out without detention," he claimed, "making a second wave of Covid-19 infections more likely. Many Thais in the UK are, therefore, worried and do not want to live in fear under these circumstances," he added.

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India becomes third hardest-hit country with nearly 700,000 coronavirus cases
India announced Monday that it has nearly 700,000 coronavirus cases, taking it past Russia to become the third-hardest-hit nation in the global pandemic.

The health ministry said 697,358 cases had now been recorded, a rise of 24,000 in 24 hours, while Russia has just over 681,000.

The United States and Brazil have the highest numbers of cases but India's tally is not expected to peak for several more weeks and experts predict the one million figure will be passed this month.

India has registered 19,963 deaths from the virus, a much lower number than many other badly hit countries.

India's major cities have been worst hit by the pandemic. New Delhi and Mumbai each have about 100,000 cases, with 3,000 dead in the capital and nearly 5,000 in Mumbai.

New Delhi has opened a new 10,000-bed temporary virus hospital while other cities are tightening restrictions on movement to head off a new surge in cases.

The Kerala state capital, Thiruvananthapuram imposed a new lockdown from Monday with public transport shut and only pharmacies allowed to open. The clampdown came after hundreds of new cases were reported across the state, which had been praised for its action to curtail the pandemic.

thejakartapost.com

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Thailand is red-lighted in the UK for quarantine purposes alongside Brazil, China and the US, inexplicable move
Travellers from Thailand must quarantine for 14 days when entering the UK. Clarification late on Friday night is disappointing news for Thai authorities as the kingdom, earlier in the week, was green-lighted by the European Union. The decision appears to have taken no account of Thailand’s exemplary performance in fighting the Covid 19 threat at such a heavy cost to the public and the economy which has been left devastated. full article  thaiexaminer.com

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Beijing reports no virus cases. Here's how the city turned it around
Beijing reported zero new coronavirus cases for the first time in 26 days, a sign the resurgence that ignited fears of a second wave in China looks to have been brought under control for now.

The city of more than 20 million people appears to have quelled a flare-up that infected 335 people, with infections down from 36 a day at their peak in mid-June. Authorities took a different approach to the virus when it reappeared in China's political and economic hub after nearly two months of no locally transmitted cases than they did in Wuhan, the central city where the pathogen first emerged.

Instead of resorting to a sudden across-the-board lockdown that risked reversing the gains made since China started reopening, Beijing deployed more targeted measures. While some -- like confining whole neighborhoods to their homes -- may be more difficult to replicate in western democracies, they could hold lessons for other countries as they grapple with the inevitable return of the virus given an effective vaccine is months, potentially even years, away.

The Beijing resurgence, which took root in a wholesale food market in the city's southwestern district, injected fresh uncertainty into the global struggle against the virus, hitting as citizens were getting used to a semblance of normal life. It served as a warning to places that look to have nailed the pandemic: the virus is elusive and isn't easily beaten.

The outbreak, which seeded small virus skirmishes in other parts of China, was contained in less than four weeks. This is how they did it:

- Millions tested

Hesitant to fully seal off Beijing like officials did in less economically important regions, the city relied on targeted testing at unprecedented speed.

Reminiscent of the mass operation conducted in Wuhan in May, when most of the population was tested for the virus in about two weeks, Beijing has tested more than 11 million people so far, according to Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, China has the capacity to test 3.8 million samples nationwide every day, officials said June 24, likely one of the fastest speeds worldwide.

Such scale is achieved using a method known as batch testing, where multiple samples are assessed simultaneously with detailed follow-up if any trace of the virus is found. Even without this method, Beijing can test over 300,000 people a day, six times more than the city's capacity in March, according to Beijing Health Commission official Zhang Hua.

During the Beijing outbreak, entire groups were tested whenever an infection was found in their midst, including all the vendors at several major wet markets. All workers at a PepsiCo Inc. food factory where a case was diagnosed had to undergo testing, and every delivery courier in the city -- over 100,000 -- was also sampled in weeks.

- Targeted lockdowns

Rather than confining everyone in Beijing to their homes once the new outbreak emerged, authorities just locked down apartment blocks and housing compounds close to the epicenter. In these high-risk areas, only one member per household was allowed to leave to purchase necessities.

It's an approach that other countries are also looking at, with authorities in the Australian city of Melbourne implementing localized lockdowns to quell a resurgence in cases there. Specific streets or neighborhoods would be told to stay home and practice social distancing, but the rest of the city would remain open. South Korea, too, has taken a targeted approach, shutting down businesses or schools where there have been outbreaks, but never imposing citywide lockdowns.

Schools in Beijing were also closed again to limit commuting, while some entertainment venues were shuttered, too.

- Lessons from Wuhan

China appears to have drawn from the lessons of Wuhan's devastating outbreak in January, when the virus was not well-understood by experts and the system unprepared for how contagious it is. Then, people swarming hospitals for help spread the virus to other patients and infected the environment.

This time in Beijing, residents were banned from entering hospitals unless they had tested negative for the virus, and makeshift test sites were set up in neighborhoods where cases were found to assist those showing symptoms.

Rather than seal off the city's borders like in Wuhan -- a move that caused widespread panic among residents, causing them to rush the city's highways -- China imposed quarantine requirements at destinations instead. People going from Beijing to some other provinces have to be isolated for two weeks in government-run facilities upon arrival, naturally discouraging travel. Carriers canceled flights, even though the airport remained open.

- Still cautious

Despite what seems to be a relatively quick containment, the flare-up has shifted the contours of China's fight against the virus. Before the Beijing outbreak, the nation appeared to be largely triumphant in its fight against a disease that continues to devastate the developing world, and China's biggest rival, the U.S.

The cluster in the capital is believed to have started at the market, but its exact genesis and how it spread remains unknown.

After the virus was detected on a chopping board used for imported salmon at the market, a nationwide boycott of the seafood took place that affected exporting countries like Norway and Australia.

Experts say it's more likely that the salmon was contaminated by an infected person, or by being in a dark, humid and low-temperature environment where the virus was present. China's customs department tested over 47,000 samples of imported meat, seafood, vegetables and food and all were negative. Still, the country has suspended imports from some foreign meat plants, including a Tyson Foods Inc. plant in the U.S. where hundreds of employees tested positive for covid-19, a move that potentially undermines its trade deal with Washington.

Amid that uncertainty -- and as cases continue to pop up in areas around Beijing -- China's strategy is to remain circumspect. Even as infections taper, officials say that they won't ease the restrictions until Beijing has seen two weeks without any new cases.

"Zero new cases does not equal to zero risk," Pang said in a presser Tuesday. "We cannot rule out the risk of new domestic cases in the coming week."

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Re: U.S. Tops Three Million Known Infections as Coronavirus Surges
« Reply #108 on: Yesterday at 11:07:16 AM »
U.S. Tops Three Million Known Infections as Coronavirus Surges


People wait in their vehicles in long lines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing in Houston, Texas, U.S., July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

(Reuters) - The U.S. coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim new milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases on Tuesday as more states reported record numbers of new infections, and Florida faced an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds.

Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily caseloads in roughly two dozen states over the past two weeks, a sign that efforts to control transmission of the novel coronavirus have failed in large swaths of the country.

California, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas on Tuesday shattered their previous daily record highs for new cases. About 24 states have also reported disturbingly high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week.

In Texas alone, the number of hospitalized patients more than doubled in just two weeks.

The trend has driven many more Americans to seek out COVID-19 screenings. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday it was adding short-term "surge" testing sites in three metropolitan areas in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

In Houston, a line of more than 200 cars snaked around the United Memorial Medical Center as people waited for hours in sweltering heat to get tested. Some had arrived the night before to secure a place in line at the drive-through site.

"I got tested because my younger brother got positive," said Fred Robles, 32, who spent the night in his car. "There's so many people that need to get tested, there's nothing you can do about it."

Dean Davis, 32, who lost his job due to the pandemic, said he arrived at the testing site at 3 a.m. on Tuesday after he waited for hours on Monday but failed to make the cutoff.

"I was like, let me get here at three, maybe nobody will be here," Davis said. "I got here, there was a line already."

In Florida, more than four dozen hospitals across 25 of 67 counties reported their intensive care units had reached full capacity, according to the state's Agency for Health Care Administration. Only 17% of the total 6,010 adult ICU beds statewide were available on Tuesday, down from 20% three days earlier.

Additional hospitalizations could strain healthcare systems in many areas, leading to an uptick in deaths from the respiratory illness that has killed more than 131,000 Americans to date.

A widely cited mortality model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected on Tuesday that U.S. deaths would reach 208,000 by Nov. 1, with the outbreak expected to gain new momentum heading into the fall.

A hoped-for summertime decline in transmission of the virus never materialized as previously predicted, the IHME said.

“The U.S. didn’t experience a true end of the first wave of the pandemic,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a statement. “This will not spare us from a second surge in the fall, which will hit particularly hard in states currently seeing high levels of infections.”

'PRESSURE ON GOVERNORS'

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pushed for restarting the U.S. economy and urged Americans to return to their normal routines, said on Tuesday he would lean on state governors to open schools in the fall.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said some people wanted to keep schools closed for political reasons. "No way, so we're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools."

New COVID-19 infections are rising in 42 states, based on a Reuters analysis of the past two weeks. By Tuesday afternoon, the number of confirmed U.S. cases had surpassed 3 million, affecting nearly one of every 100 Americans and a population roughly equal to Nevada's.

In Arizona, another hot spot, the rate of coronavirus tests coming back positive rose to 26% for the week ended July 5, leading two dozen states with positivity rates exceeding 5%. The World Heath Organization considers a rate over 5% to be troubling.

The surge has forced authorities to backpedal on moves to reopen businesses, such as restaurants and bars, after mandatory lockdowns in March and April reduced economic activity to a virtual standstill and put millions of Americans out of work.

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