Coronavirus expands grip in Americas

Updated: May 28, 2020, 07:56 IST | Agencies | Mexico City

Mexico's daily death toll is now approaching that of the US, at around 620, though Brazil leads in daily deaths with over 800. Meanwhile, many countries in Asia and Europe are making steady progress

Children from the Educandos riverside community receive face masks in Manaus, Brazil
Children from the Educandos riverside community receive face masks in Manaus, Brazil

In the Americas, the outbreaks of the novel Coronavirus is rising rapidly. Latin America has become the latest "epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic" by surpassing Europe and the US in the daily infections, CNN reported, quoting Pan American Health Organisation Director Dr Carissa Etienne, on Wednesday. Over 2.5 million cases and over 1,43,000 deaths have been reported in all of the Americas so far, said Dr Etienne.

From Mexico to Chile, health officials were reporting surging cases and overwhelmed hospitals. Authorities in Chile said their ICUs were near full capacity, with about 4,000 new cases being confirmed daily. Brazil has about 3,75,000 infections — second only to the 1.6 million cases in the US — and has counted over 23,000 deaths.

Aerial view of Ciudad Bolivar neighbourhood, south of Bogota during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pics/AFP
Aerial view of Ciudad Bolivar neighbourhood, south of Bogota during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pics/AFP

Mexico records 501 deaths
In Mexico, the health department reported 501 deaths, a new one-day high and the first time the figure exceeded 500. The number of new cases also set a daily high on Tuesday, with 3,455 additional infections. Mexico's daily death toll is now approaching that of the US, at around 620, though Brazil leads in daily deaths with over 800. Meanwhile, many countries in Asia and Europe are making steady progress.

No cases in hospitals in NZ
In New Zealand, which is still banning foreign arrivals, the Ministry of Health said there were no COVID-19 patients under treatment in the country's hospitals. The nation took aggressive and early action to stop transmissions and has reported only 21 deaths. It has 21 active cases out of 1,504 confirmed and probable ones.

As Mediterranean beaches and Las Vegas casinos lay out plans to welcome tourists again, South Korea on Wednesday announced a spike in new infections and considered reimposing social distancing restrictions, revealing the setbacks ahead for others on the road to reopening. In South Korea, 40 new cases — the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days — raised alarm as millions of children return to school. South Korea has reported 269 deaths and 11,265 cases, after managing to contain a severe earlier outbreak.

Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths, while the US has reported more than 98,900 in a span of less than four months, more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. The actual toll is thought to be significantly higher.

EU unveils stimulus package
The European Union unveiled a massive stimulus package for the bloc's ailing economies later Wednesday. EU Economics Commissioner Paulo Gentiloni, called the 750 billion-euro ($825 billion) recovery fund "a European turning point to face an unprecedented crisis."

South Korea may reimpose physical distancing rules

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says the country may need to reimpose physical distancing in April, with virus transmissions creeping up in Seoul and elsewhere in recent weeks. It's becoming increasingly difficult for health workers to track the spread of COVID-19, he said.

'6-ft distancing not enough, virus can travel nearly 20ft'

Scientists have modelled the spread of infectious droplets from coughing, sneezing, and breathing under different atmospheric conditions, and found that the novel Coronavirus can spread up to three times further in cold and humid weather. According to the researchers, including those from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the United States, droplets carrying the virus can travel up to 20 feet, making the current physical distancing norms of six
feet insufficient to contain its spread.

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