Global report: China reports most cases since April as pandemic gathers pace in Latin America

Latin America

China has reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in months as parts of Beijing remained under lockdown, offering a second-wave warning to the rest of the world as the pandemic rages in South America and global cases approach 7.8 million.

The shock resurgence in domestic infections on Sunday has rattled China, where the disease emerged late last year but had largely been tamed through severe restrictions on movement that were later emulated across the globe.

It also provides a bleak insight into the difficulties the world will face in conquering Covid-19 – even as countries in Europe prepare to reopen borders at the beginning of the summer holiday season after an encouraging drop in contagion.

Of the 57 new cases logged by Chinese authorities, 36 were domestic infections in the capital, where a large wholesale food market at the centre of the outbreak has been closed and nearby housing estates put under lockdown.

“People are scared,” a fruit and vegetable trader at another local market in central Beijing told AFP.

“The meat sellers have had to close. This disease is really scary,” said the man, adding that there were fewer customers than normal.

At least 430,000 people worldwide have died from Covid-19, and the total number of confirmed cases has doubled to 7.78 million in slightly over a month. The disease is now spreading most rapidly in Latin America, where it is threatening healthcare systems and sparking political turmoil.

Brazil now has the second-highest number of virus deaths after the US, surpassing Britain’s toll, and the Chilean health minister, Jaime Manalich, resigned on Saturday amid a furore over the country’s true number of fatalities.

There have been frequent reports of spats among health ministry officials, and Manalich has been criticised by opposition politicians, mayors, medical experts and social groups for refusing to release more detailed contagion data or apply lockdowns sooner.

The sudden reshuffle comes as Chile faces its toughest month in the pandemic so far, with spiralling active cases and death rates. The country now has the highest number of confirmed cases per million people in Latin America, reporting a total so far of 167,355 on Saturday and 3,101 deaths in a population of 19 million.

Elsewhere in Latin America, an evacuation flight carrying about 230 British nationals and residents left Colombia’s main airport in Bogota, bound for Heathrow. The plane will return with Colombian evacuees on Sunday.

Colombia, which is relaxing some of its lockdown measures, currently has confirmed 46,858 cases of Covid-19, with 1545 deaths. Daily cases are climbing, with 1646 confirmed on Saturday, worrying experts that the worst is about to hit.

In Mexico, the health ministry reported 3,494 new confirmed coronavirus infections along with 424 additional fatalities on Saturday, bringing the total in the country to 142,690 cases and 16,872 deaths.

While Latin America grapples with its rising tide of cases, many European nations are lifting lockdowns and opening borders.

After the European Commission urged a relaxation of restrictions, a number of nations are preparing to reopen borders on Monday – while some like Poland have done so already, with people from other European Union countries allowed to visit.

Germany said it would end land border checks on Monday, and France said it would gradually reopen its borders to non-Schengen countries from July. Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis travelled to picturesque Santorini island to open his country’s tourism season, while Venice sprang back to life on Saturday as hundreds of tourists flocked to the city for the reopening of the iconic Doge’s Palace.

In other developments around the world:

  • In the US, which has seen the most deaths with over 115,000, more than a dozen states – including populous Texas and Florida – reported their highest-ever daily case totals in recent days. New York state, however, had its lowest daily death toll since the pandemic began on Saturday.

  • Australia is also working towards reopening its borders, with senior ministers flagging shorter quarantine periods for international students and business travellers. Victoria is easing its restrictions from 21 June to allow up to 50 people can gather in pubs, cafes and restaurants. All visitors to Australia are currently required to spend two-weeks in hotel quarantine, but there are reports that could be halved for countries with low rates of infection such as Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea. There could also be travel bubbles with safe countries, such as New Zealand, which would not require quarantine.

  • Football superstar Lionel Messi took to the pitch again in Spain as Barcelona resumed their La Liga title challenge and thumped Real Mallorca 4-0 in an empty stadium. Live sport also returned on Saturday to New Zealand, which has gone 22 days without new coronavirus cases, as 20,000 fans watched rugby’s Otago Highlanders edge the Waikato Chiefs.

  • Australian rugby league officials postponed a top-level game on Sunday hours before kick-off due to a coronavirus scare.

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