Coun­tries see mix of wins, set­backs

Brazil sec­ond with 1M cases as Europe be­gins to re­open

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Ken Morit­sugu and Jill Law­less

BEI­JING — Au­thor­i­ties in China ap­peared to be win­ning their bat­tle against an out­break of coron­avirus in Bei­jing on Satur­day, but in parts of the Amer­i­cas the pan­demic raged un­abated. Brazil sur­passed 1 mil­lion con­firmed in­fec­tions, sec­ond only to the more than 2.2 mil­lion in the United States.

Europe, mean­while, con­tin­ued to emerge war­ily from lock­down, with hard­hit Bri­tain con­sid­er­ing eas­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules to make it eas­ier for restau­rants, pubs and schools to re­open. In Italy, once the pan­demic’s Euro­pean epi­cen­ter, Pope Fran­cis told medics that their heroic ef­forts dur­ing the out­break would help the coun­try forge a fu­ture of hope and sol­i­dar­ity.

The head of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion warned Fri­day that the pan­demic is “ac­cel­er­at­ing” and that more than 150,000 cases were re­ported the day be­fore — the high­est sin­gle­day num­ber so far.

Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus told re­porters in Geneva that nearly half of the newly re­ported cases were from the Amer­i­cas, with sig­nif­i­cant num­bers from South Asia and the Mid­dle East.

The new coron­avirus has in­fected more than 8.7 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide and killed nearly 462,000, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures com­piled by Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity. The ac­tual num­ber is thought to be much higher be­cause many cases are asymp­to­matic or go untested.

The global bat­tle against COVID-19 is a patch­work of suc­cesses and set­backs at this point, quan­ti­fied by the tra­jec­tory of the coron­avirus in dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

In China, where the virus was first iden­ti­fied and where au­thor­i­ties hoped it had been van­quished, Bei­jing recorded a fur­ther drop in cases amid tight­ened con­tain­ment mea­sures. Of­fi­cials re­ported 22 new cases in Bei­jing along with five oth­ers else­where in China. There were no new deaths and 308 peo­ple re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized for treat­ment.

South Korea, which has won global praise for its han­dling of the coron­avirus, recorded 67 new cases, the largest 24-hour in­crease in about three weeks. Most of them come from the densely pop­u­lated Seoul area, where about half of the coun­try’s 51 mil­lion peo­ple re­side. Many cases have been linked to ex­po­sure in nightlife out­lets.

Brazil’s Health Min­istry said the to­tal num­ber of cases had risen by more than 50,000 from the pre­vi­ous day. Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro still down­plays the risks of the virus af­ter nearly 50,000 fa­tal­i­ties in three months, say­ing the im­pact of so­cial iso­la­tion on Brazil’s econ­omy could be more deadly.

South Africa con­tin­ues to loosen lock­down mea­sures un­der eco­nomic pres­sure, de­spite re­port­ing nearly 4,000 more COVID-19 cases Satur­day. Casi­nos, beauty sa­lons and sit-down res­tau­rant ser­vice are among the lat­est per­mit­ted ac­tiv­i­ties as the coun­try eases one of the world’s strictest lock­downs. South Africa has about 30% of the virus cases on the African con­ti­nent, or more than 92,000.

South Africa and Ethiopia both said they are rec­om­mend­ing the lim­ited use of the com­monly avail­able steroid dexamethas­one for all COVID-19 pa­tients on ven­ti­la­tors or sup­ple­men­tary oxy­gen. In a Bri­tish trial, the drug was shown to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove sur­vival chances for the most se­ri­ously ill.

South African Health Min­is­ter Zweli Mkhize said “this break­through is ex­cel­lent news for us and we are es­pe­cially for­tu­nate that it came as we are pre­par­ing for our up­com­ing surge” in cases.

In Bri­tain, Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son’s govern­ment said it would an­nounce this week whether it will ease so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules that say peo­ple should re­main 6 feet apart. Busi­ness groups are lob­by­ing for the dis­tance to be halved to make it eas­ier to restart the U.K.’s econ­omy.

While many stores in Bri­tain have re­opened, pubs, ho­tels and restau­rants won’t be al­lowed to re­sume serv­ing cus­tomers un­til July 4 at the soon­est.

Pro­pos­als to al­low them to re­open safely in­clude pubs hav­ing peo­ple or­der pints us­ing phone apps rather than go­ing to the bar.

The U.K. has Europe’s high­est and the world’s third-high­est of­fi­cial death toll from the pan­demic, with more than 42,600 virus-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties re­ported as of Satur­day.

Italy, which for a time this spring had the most coron­avirus cases and deaths in the world, con­tin­ued re­ceiv­ing con­fir­ma­tion that the worst had re­ceded.

Pope Fran­cis wel­comed doc­tors and nurses from the Lom­bardy re­gion, Italy’s fi­nan­cial and in­dus­trial cap­i­tal and the cen­ter of its out­break, to the Vat­i­can on Satur­day to thank them for their work and sac­ri­fice.

Fran­cis said Lom­bardy’s medics “gave wit­ness to God’s prox­im­ity to those who suf­fer” and be­came lit­eral “an­gels,” help­ing the sick re­cover or ac­com­pa­ny­ing them to their deaths when fam­ily mem­bers were pre­vented from vis­it­ing.

The north­ern re­gion counted about half of Italy’s 34,610 COVID-19 deaths.

Many ar­eas of Europe are deal­ing with new lo­cal­ized out­breaks, with some of the largest cen­tered around meat-pro­cess­ing plants. Ger­man of­fi­cials said Satur­day that the num­ber of work­ers in­fected at a slaugh­ter­house in the north­west of the coun­try had risen to 1,029 but there was no ev­i­dence of “sig­nif­i­cant” spread into the com­mu­nity.

French au­thor­i­ties were keep­ing a close eye on signs of an ac­cel­er­at­ing spread of the coron­avirus in Nor­mandy, a re­gion that’s un­til now been spared the worst of the out­break that has hit Paris and eastern France par­tic­u­larly hard.

LEO COR­REA/AP

Emer­gency health work­ers take part in a protest de­mand­ing pay­ment of their salaries and im­proved ben­e­fits Satur­day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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