With new cases surging in Europe, the world recorded the highest daily number of infections since the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus a pandemic seven months ago.
On Thursday, the WHO reported a record one-day increase of 338,779 new infections. Globally, more than 5,000 people die every day from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The death toll from the pandemic stands at around 1.07 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics of the past century and a global crisis with catastrophic consequences.
The World Bank this week said a pandemic was most likely to cause the disease the first increase in extreme poverty since 1998 with up to 115 million more people included in that category this year. The bank previously predicted up to 100 million people by 2020 would fall below the extreme poverty line, which is defined as living on less than $ 1.90 a day.
On the other hand, a pandemic is making the richest person in the world even richer. A report from the Swiss bank UBS This week it found that the wealth of 2,189 world billionaires hit a new high of $ 10.2 trillion at the end of July. The wealth of the world’s richest person grew 27.5% between April and July, the report said. Industrialists and health care and tech billionaires have done their best, according to the report.
India leads the world in the number of new daily infections and deaths. On average, India reports more than 70,000 new daily infections and more than 900 deaths each day. The death toll reached more than 106,500 and the virus has been detected in nearly 7 million people in India.
The United States and Brazil, meanwhile, are the worst affected countries in the world. US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have been blamed for playing down the risk of infection and hindering efforts to suppress it.
In Brazil, the number of new daily infections has fallen from more than 70,000 cases in early August to more than 25,000 in recent days. However, the daily death toll remains high with 730 deaths from COVID-19-19 reported as of Thursday. Nearly 150,000 people in Brazil have died in the pandemic.
The US also failed to contain the infection. The infection rate began to rise again in the US with more than 56,000 new cases reported Thursday. Americans continue to die in staggering numbers with 957 deaths related to the virus as of Thursday. The US death toll, the highest in the world, stands at about 218,000.
Europe also cannot control the virus.
On Friday, Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency in Madrid, deepening a political battle with Madrid’s regional conservative leader, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who has resisted the crackdown. On Thursday, a regional court overturned restrictions imposed by the Sanchez government, forcing it to declare a state of emergency.
About 7,000 police officers were deployed to enforce restrictions, which include a ban on non-essential travel out of the city and surrounding suburbs. About 4.8 million people have been affected by the emergency. Since early August, Spain has been in the grip of a second wave of the virus with daily infections surging past 9,000 cases for most of September. The rate of spread has fallen to about 5,600 new cases every day.
But Spain is not the only European country experiencing a worrying spread of infections.
Britain and France reported the most recent infections in Europe. On Thursday, France reported more than 18,000 new cases and Britain more than 17,500 new cases.
In Britain, tougher measures to curb infections, such as early closings of pubs and restaurants and bans on families from seeing one another, were imposed in northern England, Wales and Scotland.
“We are at a dangerous time in the course of this pandemic. In some parts of the country, the situation is getting very serious again, ”said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Unfortunately, we are seeing a sharp increase in hospitalizations for people over the age of 60 and the number of deaths from the coronavirus also increasing.
Deaths, though, across Europe have been rising slowly so far and there is hope that new treatments and treatments, combined with efforts to protect more vulnerable people, will prevent many deaths.
“The bright side (is) when the COVID pandemic reaches its climax in March,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, at a press conference on Friday, “the number of cases is high and the number of deaths is also high. But what we see now is very different. The number of cases is high but the number of deaths is low. That’s very important progress. “
France has also imposed restrictions where infection is rampant and French Health Minister Olivier Veran warned that tighter restrictions may be needed. Bars and cafes have closed in Paris and Marseille. Similar measures were enforced in the cities of Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne.
“Unfortunately, the health situation in France continues to deteriorate,” said Veran. “Every day in France, more and more people are infected, more and more are getting sick, and more and more are suffering from serious effects requiring hospitalization.”
On Friday, Italy reported more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19, a sharp increase that has frightened the country over fears it will slide back into another wave of deaths. This week, Italy imposed a national mandate to wear masks outdoors. Germany has also reported a spike in cases and is considering tighter restrictions.
To the east, Poland, Russia and Ukraine also reported very high numbers of new cases. In Moscow, the authorities are talking about closing bars and nightclubs.
For now, European leaders are not considering a national lockdown. The lockdown is seen as a last resort to contain an uncontrolled outbreak. The economic damage and devastating effects of the lockdown are becoming increasingly clear as the economy slumps and health experts warn of an increase in suicides, mental health problems, substance abuse and physical violence.
“What the government is trying to do is not lock up,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s head of emergencies. “We need to try and prevent this disease from becoming a rampant epidemic at the country level and spreading to older, vulnerable populations and leading to high death rates. We need to protect that population. “
In the WHO’s effort to distribute cheap coronavirus vaccines around the world, China on Friday said it would join the WHO’s mission to get countries to commit to global vaccine distribution.
More than 170 countries have joined the initiative, including most of the world’s major economies such as Britain, Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The European Union and France helped launch it.
The US and Russia have not joined the initiative known as the Covax facility.
A number of low- and middle-income countries have signed contracts in the hope of receiving a good price dose of the vaccine. The WHO says a pandemic can only be contained if enough people around the world become immune and says a vaccine is the best way to achieve that.
“We earnestly promise to make the vaccine developed and distributed by China a global public good, which will be given to developing countries as a priority,” said Hua Chunying, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.
China’s decision to join the WHO initiative is also seen as a move to try to score political points against the US
Trump has withdrawn the US from the WHO, accusing the UN health agency of working on behalf of China to cover up the severity of the virus after emerging last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“The more countries that join the Covax facility, the more economies that are a part of it, the better,” said Dr. Bruce Alyward, senior advisor at WHO. “As simple as that.”
– Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau lives in the European Union.