Sat, 24 Oct 2020

US on Brink of 7 Million COVID-19 Cases

Voice of America
25 Sep 2020, 22:35 GMT+10

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Friday that the U.S. is on the brink of having an astounding 7 million COVID-19 cases. India follows the U.S. with 5.8 million and Brazil has 4.6 million cases.

Brazil's rising caseload has prompted the country to announce the delay of Rio de Janeiro's annual Carnival parade held in February, during the South American country's summer. Millions of people take to the city's streets for the annual rambunctious event.

It is the first time the event has been delayed. It was not immediately clear when or if the 2021 iteration of the world-famous parade will take place.

Hair loss is the latest reported side effect of the coronavirus. An account in The New York Times says doctors have noticed a recent uptick in the numbers of patients reporting the loss. The hair loss is happening not only to people who have had the virus, but also those who have not.

Doctors say they believe that in both instances the hair loss can be attributed to stress.

"There's many, many stresses in many ways surrounding this pandemic, and we're still seeing hair loss because a lot of the stress hasn't gone away," Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, an associate professor of dermatology at the Cleveland Clinic, told The Times.

Britain tightens restrictions

Last call came early Thursday at pubs and bars in England and Wales, as Britain tightened the rules to try to curb a coronavirus surge.

The new restrictions, announced Tuesday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, mean that any establishment serving food or drink must close by 10 p.m.

The new rules apply in Scotland from Friday, while Northern Ireland is still considering a curfew.

British pubs traditionally close at 11 p.m. But some stay open later, depending on their location and the day.

"I don't think it's gonna help, it's too little too late, as usual," Joyce, a skeptical drinker in her 50s at a pub in the East London neighborhood of Dalston, told AFP.

"You're just displacing the problem," she said.

Britain announced 6,634 new cases Thursday, the biggest daily number since the pandemic began. Britain is performing about 220,000 tests a day.

EU urges decisive action

Across the English Chanel, European Union health officials urged member states Thursday to "act decisively" to put in place and utilize measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus and a potential surge in cases like the one earlier this year that prompted widespread lockdowns.

"We are at a decisive moment. All member states must be ready to roll out control measures, immediately and at the right time, at the very first sign of potential new outbreaks," said Stella Kyriakides, commissioner for health and food safety. She added, "This might be our last chance to prevent a repeat of last spring."

More than 3 million cases have been reported across the EU and Britain since the pandemic began, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Kyriakides noted some EU countries are experiencing higher numbers of new infections than they had in March at the peak of the outbreak in the region, saying, "It is abundantly clear that this crisis is not behind us."

France's health ministry reported Thursday the number of people hospitalized in intensive care units due to the coronavirus surpassed 1,000 for the first time since early June.

In the Netherlands, health officials said Thursday the number of new infections rose to 2,544, a record high for a single day.

Poland's health ministry also reported a record daily rise in cases and attributed the trend to people making more contact with others after restrictions were lifted.

Sweden sounds alarm

Sweden, which opted not to put in place many of the stricter coronavirus lockdown measures seen elsewhere in Europe, is experiencing a situation Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called worrying.

"The caution that existed in the spring has more and more been replaced by hugs, parties, bus trips in rush hour traffic, and an everyday life that, for many, seems to return to normal," Lofven told reporters.

He said people will be glad about the right steps they take now and suffer later for what is done wrong.

Lofven urged people to follow social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures, and said, if necessary, the government would introduce new measures to stop the spread of the virus.

Indonesia experiences surge

A similar message about the need for continued vigilance and good practices came Thursday from Indonesia's COVID-19 task force as that country saw another record increase in new cases. COVID-19 is the illness caused by the coronavirus.

"Over time, we've seen that the people have lowered their guards," task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito told reporters. "It's almost like they don't have empathy even when they see every day so many new victims."

The governor of the capital, Jakarta, extended coronavirus restrictions there until October 11 in order to help hospitals cope with demand.

Israel reimposes full lockdown

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that the country is returning to a full lockdown, effective Friday, and lasting for two weeks as its infection rate spirals out of control.

Schools, entertainment venues and most businesses will be closed, while restaurants will be limited to delivering food. Residents will be required to stay within 500 to 1,000 meters of their homes, except for work and shopping for food and medicine, while outdoor gatherings will be strictly limited to 20 people.

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