The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases — and hit another high mark for daily new infections as U.S. states that attempted re-openings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.
“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases.
Abbott appeared with Vice-President Mike Pence, who cut campaign events from upcoming visits to Florida and Arizona because of rising virus cases in those states.
Pence praised Abbott for both his decision to reopen the state, and to roll back the reopening plans.
“You flattened the curve here in Texas … but about two weeks ago something changed,” Pence said.
Pence urged people to wear masks when unable to practice social distancing. He and Abbott wore face masks as they entered and left the room, taking them off while speaking to reporters.
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself and allowed cities and counties to require face masks in public even though he hasn’t been seen wearing one.
Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far. The Arizona Department of Health Services also reported nine additional deaths, pushing the state’s documented COVID-19 totals to nearly 74,000 cases and 1,588 known deaths.
“This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department of Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon.”
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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, defended the fact that President Donald Trump has rarely worn a mask in public, saying he doesn’t have to follow his own administration’s guidance because as a leader of the free world he’s tested regularly and is in “very different circumstances than the rest of us.”
Addressing spikes in reported coronavirus cases in some states, Azar said on NBC’s Meet the Press that people “have to take ownership” of their own behaviours by social distancing and wearing masks if possible.
Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths passed half a million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases.
The U.S. has more than 2.5 million cases and the highest virus death toll in the world at more than 125,000.
The true death toll from the virus, which first emerged in China late last year, is widely believed to be significantly higher. Experts say that especially early on, many victims died of COVID-19 without being tested for it.
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
The decision by WestJet and Air Canada to relax on-board physical distancing policies next month is under fire from those who worry about the health implications. The two airlines plan to allow customers to book seats adjacent to each other, starting on July 1.
Sarah Antonio, a Toronto resident with a ticket for a WestJet flight to Vancouver on July 8, said she assumed the airline “would want to take our safety more seriously.”
Antonio said she and her husband are going on a business trip they were supposed to take in March but chose to delay because of the pandemic. She said the main reason they felt comfortable booking the flight now was because WestJet said explicitly during the ticket-booking process that the middle seat would be empty.
NDP MP Niki Ashton said the same physical distancing rules that apply throughout Canada should also apply on airplanes.
As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 103,250 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 66,152 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,570.
What’s happening around the world
The World Health Organization announced another daily record in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world — topping over 189,000 in a single 24-hour period. The tally eclipses the previous record a week earlier at over 183,000 cases, showing case counts continue to progress worldwide.
In Europe, voters in Poland and France wore masks and observed social distancing as they went to the polls for virus-delayed elections.
Swiss authorities ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak of coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub, and Britain’s government is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.
Italy was honouring its dead later Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony in the one-time epicentre of the European outbreak came a day after Italy registered the lowest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths in nearly four months: eight.
European leaders were taking no chances in tamping down new clusters. German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive.
In Asia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits lockdowns, even as the number of coronavirus cases still keeps on climbing. On Sunday, India reported an additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking its total to nearly 529,000 with 16,095 deaths. The pandemic has exposed wide inequalities in India, with public hospitals being overwhelmed by virus cases while the rich get expert treatment in private hospitals.
China reported 17 new cases, all but three of them from domestic transmission in Beijing. But authorities say a campaign to conduct tests on employees at hair and beauty salons across the city has found no positive cases so far.
In the Americas, the number of cases in Latin America and the Caribbean has more than tripled from 690,000 one month ago to about 2.5 million.
While some smaller countries — such as Costa Rica, Cuba, Uruguay and Paraguay — appear to have tamed their outbreaks by reacting more swiftly and comprehensively, regional heavyweights Brazil and Mexico are hitting record numbers of daily cases as their respective populist governments went against scientific opinion and downplayed the threat of the virus, continuing to hold political rallies and resisting lockdowns.
Africa‘s confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to climb to a new high of more than 371,000, including 9,484 deaths, according to figures released Sunday by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
South Africa’s health minister warned that the country’s current surge of cases is expected to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and push hospitals to the limit. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said the current rise in infections has come from people who “moved back into the workplace. It was therefore inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks as infections spilled over from communities into places of congregation such as mines, factories, taxis and buses.”
South Africa has more than a third of the continent’s cases. It reported 7,210 new cases on Sunday, its highest single daily increase to date.
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