From Italy and India to the US, governments rolled out tougher measures to halt the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as global cases surged past 300,000 yesterday and Asia braced for a possible second wave of infections.
Nearly 1 billion people are already confined to their homes around the world as countries race to contain the ballooning outbreak by imposing unprecedented lockdown measures, shutting shops and businesses, and sealing borders.
Italy has reported more deaths — more than 4,800 — than mainland China and third-placed Iran combined, and has a death rate of 8.6 percent among confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than one-third of the global total.
Photo: AFP / Comunidad de Madrid
Police yesterday patrolled the deserted streets of Rome, while checks were also carried out on beaches after local officials complained people were defying orders to catch some time in the sun.
Similar shut-in measures have been rolled out in badly hit Spain and France, where helicopters and drones are being deployed to ensure crowds do not gather in parks or along river banks.
Spain saw a sharp spike in deaths again yesterday — a 30 percent rise bringing total fatalities to 1,720 — while France saw its death toll mount to 562 on Saturday.
More than one-third of Americans were meanwhile adjusting to life in various phases of lockdown, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Other parts of the US are expected to ramp up restrictions as well.
New Jersey on Saturday followed several states in telling residents to stay indoors.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the disruption is likely to last for months, not weeks.
The US Food and Drug Administration also approved the first coronavirus test that can be conducted entirely at the point of care for a patient — and deliver results in 45 minutes.
The pandemic has bludgeoned global stock markets, and the US — the world’s biggest economy — is preparing a huge emergency stimulus package that could top US$1 trillion.
Several European countries have already announced their own stimulus packages to stave off economic collapse.
The coronavirus has infected more than 1,100 across Africa too, where healthcare systems are limited and social distancing measures are difficult in crowded cities.
The Middle East also remains on high alert, but Iran, which reported 129 deaths yesterday, has refused to join the rest of the world in imposing heavy restrictions.
El Salvador joined several central and South American countries in imposing quarantine measures on Saturday, as Colombia announced its first COVID-19 death.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo