Renewed lockdown measures in a region of Germany where hundreds of coronavirus cases have sprung up at a slaughterhouse and states in the U.S. reporting record new cases provided a stark reminder on Tuesday that the pandemic is far from over.
The lockdown restrictions are in effect in North Rhine-Westphalia German state after more than 1,550 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck.
Thousands more workers and family members were put into quarantine to try to halt the outbreak.
On Tuesday, North Rhine-Westphalia Gov. Armin Laschet said people in Guetersloh and parts of a neighbouring county will now face the same restrictions that Germany saw in March and April, including curbs on social gatherings and bar closures.
“The purpose is to calm the situation, to expand testing to establish whether or not the virus has spread beyond the employees of Toennies,” Laschet said.
The governor expressed frustration at the company’s handling of the outbreak, saying authorities had to order Toennies to release the names of its employees.
“The readiness to co-operate could have been greater,” he said.
Union officials have blamed poor working and living conditions that migrant workers faced under a loosely regulated sub-contractor.
In the U.S., a number of states reported record new cases on Tuesday.
Nevada reported a record 462 new cases amid an uptick of infections that started about two weeks after casinos in Las Vegas reopened; Arizona reported a record of nearly 3,600 new cases as the state continued to set records for the number of people hospitalized, in intensive care and on ventilators; and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his state surpassed 5,000 new cases in a single day for the first time.
The United States has the most infections and deaths by far in the world, with 2.3 million cases and over 120,000 confirmed virus-related deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, told a House committee on Tuesday he believes “it will be when and not if” there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remains “cautiously optimistic” that some will be ready at the end of the year
WATCH | Fauci ‘cautiously optimistic’ COVID-19 vaccine will be available by end of 2020:
Meanwhile, Britain — which has recorded the most coronavirus-related deaths in Europe — pressed on with its easing of the lockdown with new reopenings planned for July 4.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major rollback of lockdown measures that will let millions in England back into pubs, cinemas, churches and hair salons. The move came amid strong pressure from businesses to ease social distancing rules.
But some scientists worried the move is too hasty, especially since measures like a track-and-trace system to stamp out any outbreaks isn’t yet in place.
“This is far too premature,” said David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government. “To come out of [lockdown] too early is extremely risky.”
The World Health Organization says the pandemic is still growing.
“The epidemic is now peaking or moving toward a peak in a number of large countries,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief.
South Africa braced for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases by opening a large field hospital with 3,300 beds in a converted car manufacturing plant.
The field hospital has been constructed in the city of East London in the Eastern Cape province, one of the country’s centres of the disease. South Africa has now reported a total of 101,590 coronavirus cases, including 1,991 deaths.
India has been recording about 15,000 new infections each day, and some states Tuesday were considering fresh lockdown measures to try to halt the spread of the virus among the country’s 1.3 billion people. The government had lifted a nationwide lockdown to restart the ailing economy and give hope to millions of hungry, unemployed day labourers.
India’s huge virus caseload is highlighting the country’s unequal society, where private hospitals cater to the rich and public hospitals are so overwhelmed that many people fear to enter them.
In Pakistan, the government is determined to buoy the frail economy by opening up the country even if overcrowded hospitals are turning away patients. New cases have also been rising steeply in Mexico, Colombia and Indonesia.
Concerns over the spread of the virus prompted Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision to limit the number of people performing the hajj pilgrimage this year to only a few thousand. The pilgrimage usually draws up to 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world.
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest infection rates in the Middle East, with more than 161,000 confirmed cases so far, including 1,307 deaths.
Worldwide, more than 9.1 million people have been infected and more than 473,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true numbers are much higher because of limited testing and cases in which patients had no symptoms.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took more than three months for the world to see one million confirmed infections but just eight days to see the most recent one million cases.
“The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself. It’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership,” he said.
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 101,950 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 64,684 of the cases listed as resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,498.
There are no proven treatments or vaccines for the novel virus, which causes an illness called COVID-19. Health officials say most people who contract the virus will experience mild to moderate illness, but some — particularly those with underlying health issues and the elderly — are at greater risk of severe illness and death.
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