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May 22, 2020

Corona global cases double in a month

Top Story

May 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The number of officially recorded cases of the novel coronavirus has doubled in one month, according to international media reports.

Infections now top five million, with surges in particular in countries in Latin America. Brazil leads the pack, logging the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia. Peru, Mexico and Chile are also seeing steady increases in infections.

The pandemic has killed at least 332,074 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year. There have been 5,150,036 officially recorded cases in 196 countries and territories. The United States has recorded the most deaths at 95,571. It is followed by Britain with 36,042, Italy with 32,486, France with 28,132 and Spain with 27,940.

British airline EasyJet says it will return to the skies on June 15, with "a small number of flights", after grounding its entire fleet The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits in the two months since the coronavirus took hold in the US has swelled to nearly 39 million, the government reported Thursday, even as states from coast to coast gradually reopen their economies and let people go back to work. More than 2.4 million people filed for jobless aid last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the outbreak that has triggered nationwide business shutdowns and brought the economy to its knees, the Labor Department said. That brings the running total to a staggering 38.6 million, a job-market collapse unprecedented in its speed.

The number of weekly applications has slowed for seven straight weeks. Yet the figures remain breathtakingly high — 10 times higher than normal before the crisis struck. The Latin America has overtaken the United States and Europe in the past week to report the largest portion of new daily cases globally.

It represents a new phase in the virus’ spread, which initially peaked in China in February, before large-scale outbreaks followed in Europe and the United States. Latin America accounted for around a third of the 91,000 cases reported earlier this week. Europe and the United States each accounted for just over 20 percent.

A large number of those new cases came from Brazil, which recently surpassed Germany, France and the United Kingdom to become the third-largest outbreak in the world, behind the United States and Russia.

Cases in Brazil are now rising at a daily pace second only to the United States. Around 10,000 Iranian health workers have been infected with coronavirus, the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted the deputy health minister as saying on Thursday.

“Around 10,000 health workers have been infected with the deadly disease in Iran and some of them have died,” Qassem Janbabai said, according to ILNA. Indonesia recorded its biggest one-day jump in cases with 973 new infections, as the world´s fourth most populous country battles widespread social-distancing violations. “This increase is outrageous — it’s the biggest jump so far,” the government’s virus task force spokesman told reporters.

The country’s death toll stands at 1,278 — the highest in Asia outside China — with 20,162 infections confirmed nationwide, but the true toll is widely believed to be much higher. Afghan Ministry of Public Health on Thursday reported 531 new positive cases of COVID-19 including 274 in capital Kabul over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of patients to 8,676 in the country.

India’s federal health ministry Thursday morning reported 132 more deaths and 5,609 new COVID-19 cases since Wednesday, taking the number of deaths to 3,435 and total cases to 112,359.

Meanwhile, China offered a low-key rebuttal to US President Donald Trump´s accusation of mass killing on Thursday, with a foreign ministry official insisting the country did its best to protect lives during the pandemic.

Tensions between the US and China have been on the rise as the deadly coronavirus, which first surfaced in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, ravaged the global economy. Beijing´s latest response came a day after Trump blamed China for “mass Worldwide killing” in a tweet, which also referred to an unidentified “wacko”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing: “We have persisted in speaking the truth, presenting the truth and speaking with reason, doing our utmost to protect the lives and health of the people.”

Zhao reiterated China´s stance that it has “always had an open, transparent and responsible attitude” as it battled the pandemic. He added the country has been doing its best to promote international cooperation against the pathogen.

Meanwhile, China said it will retaliate if the US Congress passes legislation seeking sanctions against China over the coronavirus pandemic. “We firmly oppose these bills, and will make a firm response and take countermeasures based on the deliberation of these bills,” spokesman Zhang Yesui said at a news conference on the eve of the annual session of the People’s Congress.

“It is neither responsible nor moral to cover up one´s own problems by blaming others. We will never accept any unwarranted lawsuits and demands for compensation,” Zhang said. Meanwhile, British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca on Thursday said it had secured more than $1.0 billion from the United States to help fund production of its coronavirus vaccine. AstraZeneca is partnering with University of Oxford to develop and distribute a vaccine being trialled in the UK.

AstraZeneca on Thursday said it had “received support of more than $1.0 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authorit for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine”. The company however added it was in contact with governments and international health institutions to ensure the vaccine is available globally.

AstraZeneca said it had concluded deals for the first 400 million doses of the vaccine — and has manufacturing capacity for one billion doses, with it hoping to begin deliveries in September.

“AstraZeneca is advancing its ongoing response to address the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organisations to make the University of Oxford’s vaccine widely accessible around the world in an equitable manner,” a statement said.