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COVID-19: WHO warns of 'lengthy' pandemic as cases surge

10:12 | 02/08/2020

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to be "lengthy", the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday as many countries worldwide have reported an increase in cases.

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The WHO said it "highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic" in a statement after its emergency committee met on Friday to evaluate the crisis six months after it rang the global alarm on January 30.

The group also warned of the risk of "response fatigue" given the socio-economic pressures on countries.

"WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high," said its latest statement.

The committee highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.

Mexico logs over 9,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time

Mexico racked up a record number of new confirmed coronavirus infections on Saturday, registering more than 9,000 daily cases for the first time and passing the previous peak for the second day running, official data showed.

Mexico’s health ministry reported 9,556 new cases of coronavirus, surging past the record of 8,458 set on Friday. The ministry also logged 784 additional fatalities, bringing the total tally in the country to 434,193 cases and 47,472 deaths, stated the Euro News.

covid 19 who warns of lengthy pandemic as cases surge

A woman wearing a face mask walks among other people at Sonora market in Mexico City, Mexico, July 31, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

The new record in cases came a day after Mexico overtook Britain as the country with the third-highest number of deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mexico has struggled to contain the virus and has since late May been trying to restart the economy, which in the April-June period contracted by more than 17% quarter-on-quarter.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely considerably higher than the confirmed cases.

The U.S. reels as July cases more than double the total of any other month

As reported by the NY Times that the United States recorded more than 1.9 million new infections in July, nearly 42 per cent of the more than 4.5 million cases reported nationwide since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The previous monthly high came in April when more than 880,000 new cases were recorded.

The virus is picking up dangerous speed in much of the Midwest — and in states from Mississippi to Florida to California that thought they had already seen the worst of it.

Gone is any sense that the country may soon get ahold of the pandemic. The seven-day average for new infections has hovered around 65,000 for the past two weeks, more than doubling the peak average from the spring, when the country experienced what was essentially its first wave, added the NY Times.

covid 19 who warns of lengthy pandemic as cases surge
A testing site in Tulsa, Okla, on Thursday. Photo: Chris Creese/ The New York Times

In many states, distressed government officials are re-tightening restrictions on residents and businesses, and sounding warnings about a rise in virus-related hospitalizations.

Across the country, deaths from the virus continued to rise after a steep drop from the mid-April peaks of about 2,200 a day. At the start of July, the average death toll was about 500 per day. Over the last week, it has averaged more than 1,000 daily, with many of those concentrated in Sun Belt states.

The Northeast, once the virus’s biggest hot spot, has improved considerably since its peak in April. Yet cases are now increasing slightly in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as residents move around more freely and gather more frequently in groups.

Mainland China reports 49 new coronavirus cases on Aug 1

China reported 49 cases of the new coronavirus in the mainland for Aug. 1, up from 45 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Sunday.

Of the new infections, 30 were in the far western region of Xinjiang, three were in the northeastern province of Liaoning, and the remaining 16 were imported cases, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

China reported 20 new asymptomatic cases, down from 23 a day earlier.

As of the end of Saturday, mainland China had 84,385 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634.

covid 19 who warns of lengthy pandemic as cases surge

People wear protective masks as they walk in a shopping street following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) in a historic part of Beijing, China, July 30, 2020.

Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter

Social-distancing measures that limit public gatherings in Hong Kong to two people and ban restaurant dining-in services between 6 pm and 5 am will be extended, sources say, as the city recorded another six Covid-19 deaths – the most in one day – and reported 125 new cases.

The rule requiring the wearing of masks in public would also continue, a government source told the Post on Saturday, the 11th straight day with triple-digit increases in coronavirus cases, informed the SCMP.

The social-distancing measures, originally scheduled to run until this Tuesday, would be extended as the city had recently seen more than 100 new cases each day, the source said. The length of the extension would be announced by the government.

All but one of Saturday’s cases were locally transmitted, including 45 without a known origin. The imported infection involved a returnee from Britain.

South Africa passes half a million confirmed cases, health ministry says

South Africa has now registered more than 500,000 cases of coronavirus, the health ministry announced Saturday, making it by far the hardest-hit country on the continent.

“Today South Africa has exceeded the half-a-million mark with a cumulative total of 503,290 confirmed Covid-19 cases recorded,” Heath Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

South Africa has become the epicentre of the deadly pandemic on the continent, accounting for more than half of Africa’s diagnosed infections.

More than a third of positive cases are in Gauteng province – South Africa’s financial hub and the epicentre of the outbreak.

covid 19 who warns of lengthy pandemic as cases surge
A family member wearing a full PPE suite looks on after the funeral of an elderly relative who died as a result of Covid-19 in Johannesburg. Photo: EPA-EFE

So far the number of fatalities stands at 8,153, although local researchers have recorded a jump of nearly 60 per cent in the overall number of natural deaths in recent weeks, suggesting a much higher toll of coronavirus-related fatalities than officially recorded, according to the South China Morning Post. 

Health authorities have been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed on March 27, during the early stage of the pandemic.

South Africa has embarked on aggressive testing and tracing exercise and it has conducted more than three million tests since the virus landed on its shores in early March.

Tokyo Governor warns citizens after the third day of record case increases

Japan's capital recorded 472 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the third straight day of record numbers.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike issued a warning on Saturday urging people to wash their hands, wear masks and visit those businesses that display the special city-backed stickers with the image of a rainbow, which indicates good social distancing, according to the ABC News.

Most people getting sick were in their 20s and 30s, highlighting how they may be putting their guard down and going out partying, according to officials.

Nationwide, the daily count of coronavirus cases in Japan totalled a record 1,579 on Friday. Overall, there have been 1,008 deaths and 37,746 cases in the country.

Another day of record cases in India

India has recorded the steepest spike of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

The Health Ministry also reported 764 deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 36,511.

India's Civil Aviation Ministry delayed resumption of international flights until the end of August.

But it will continue to allow several international carriers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East to operate special flights to evacuate stranded nationals.

covid 19 who warns of lengthy pandemic as cases surge
More than 640,000 tests will be done in India after the record increased. Photo: Manish Swarup/AP

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said more than 1 million people had recovered, with active cases only a third of the total. India conducted more than 640,000 tests in 24 hours, taking cumulative tests across the country to nearly 1.9 million, revealed the ABC News.

The increase came a day after the previous record high of 55,079 new cases. Lockdown remains in places across all containment zones, while subways, cinemas, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, theatres, auditoriums and other social gathering places will remain closed throughout August.

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Malie Nguyen