“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Governor 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.
California Governor Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles. He ordered them to close immediately and urged eight other counties to issue local health orders mandating the same.
South Africa’s Health Minister warned the country’s surge of cases is expected to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and push hospitals to the limit.
Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said the rise in infections had come from people who “moved back into the workplace. It was therefore inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks.”
New clusters at a Swiss nightclub and in the English city of Leicester show the virus is still circulating widely in Europe, though not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the US, Latin America and India.
Poland and France, meanwhile, attempted a step toward normality as they held elections that had been delayed by the virus.
Wearing masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles voting in their presidential election also wore masks and used hand sanitiser, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots to avoid further contagion.
In Texas, Abbott appeared with Vice-President Mike Pence, who cut campaign events from coming visits to Florida and Arizona because of rising virus cases in those states.
Pence praised Abbott for 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.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, defended President Donald Trump rarely wearing a mask in public, saying he did not have to follow his own administration’s guidance because he was tested regularly and was in “very different circumstances than the rest of us”.
A tally on Sunday by Johns Hopkins University researchers said the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic had reached 500,108.
About one in four of those deaths – more than 125,000 – have been reported in the US. The country with the next highest death toll is Brazil, with more than 57,000.
The true death toll from the virus, which first emerged in China late last year, is widely believed to be significantly higher. To date, more than 10 million confirmed cases have been reported globally. About a quarter of them have been reported in the US.
The World Health Organisation announced another daily record in the number of confirmed cases – topping more than 189,000 in a single 24-hour period. The tally eclipses the previous record a week earlier at more than 183,000 cases.
The US still has far and away the most total cases. At more than 2,450,000 – roughly twice that of Brazil.
Britain’s government, meanwhile, 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 on Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony 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 after about 1300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive. Swiss authorities ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak at a Zurich nightclub.
Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to climb to a new high of more than 371,000, including 9484 deaths, according the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
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