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May 24, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic accelerate in sub-continent, Russia, Latin America

Peshawar

May 24, 2020

NEW DELHI: The coronavirus pandemic accelerated across Latin America, Russia and the Indian subcontinent on Friday even as curves flattened and reopening was underway in much of Europe, Asia and the United States, foreign media reported.

The pandemic has killed at least 338,666 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year. There have been 5,280,000 officially recorded cases in 196 countries and territories. The United States has recorded the most deaths at 97,482. It is followed by Britain with 36,393, Italy with 32,616, France with 28,289 and Spain with 28,628.

Many governments — even those where the virus is still on the rise — say they have to shift their focus to saving jobs that are vanishing as quickly as the disease can spread. In the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, unemployment is soaring.

The Federal Reserve chairman has estimated that up to one American in four could be jobless, while in China analysts estimate around a third of the urban workforce is unemployed. But the virus is roaring through countries ill-equipped to handle the pandemic, which many scientists fear will seed the embers of a second global wave. India saw its biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began, and Pakistan and Russia recorded their highest death tolls. Most new Indian cases are in Bihar, where thousands returned home from jobs in the cities. For over a month, some walked among crowds for hundreds of miles.

Latin America’s two most populous nations — Mexico and Brazil — have reported record counts of new cases and deaths almost daily this week, fueling criticism of their presidents, who have slow-walked shutdowns in attempts to limit economic damage.

Cases were rising and intensive-care units were also swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador — countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines. Brazil reported more than 20,000 deaths and 300,000 confirmed cases Thursday night — the third worst-hit country in the world in terms of infection by official counts. Experts consider both numbers undercounts due to widespread lack of testing.

“It does not forgive, it does not choose race, or if you are rich or poor, black or white,” Bruno Almeida de Mello, a 24-year-old Uber driver, said at his 66-year-old grandmother’s burial in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s sad that in other countries people believe, but not here.”

President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the seriousness of the virus and actively campaigned against state governors’ attempts to limit movement and commerce.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador downplayed the threat for weeks as he continued to travel the country after Mexico’s first confirmed case. He insisted that Mexico was different, that its strong family bonds and work ethic would pull it through. The country is now reporting more than 400 deaths a day, and new infections still haven’t peaked.

Armando Sepulveda, a mausoleum manager in suburban Mexico City, said his burial and cremation business has doubled in recent weeks.

Meanwhile Mexico’s government has shifted its attention to reactivating the economy. Mining, construction and parts of the North American automotive supply chain were allowed to resume operations this week. Russian health officials registered 150 deaths in 24 hours, for a total of 3,249. Many outside Russia have suggested the country is manipulating its statistics to show a comparatively low death rate. The total confirmed number of cases exceeded 326,000 on Friday. The governor of the German region of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, suggested that his country could bring in Russian patients, as it has those from European Union countries as a gesture of “solidarity.”

China announced it would give local governments two trillion yuan (Rs44,996 billion) to help undo the damage from shutdowns imposed to curb the spread of the virus that first appeared in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has now infected at least 5.1 million people worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The Bank of Japan said it would provide $280 billion (Rs44,996) in zero-interest, unsecured loans to banks for financing small and medium-size businesses.