Germany warns virus risk still high as economies restart

27 June 2020, 11:54

Coronavirus US
Virus Outbreak-Bars-On The Rocks. Picture: PA

Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to half a million lives with nearly 10 million cases.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, as regional outbreaks gave rise to fears of a second wave.

Two of the largest US states reversed course and reinstated some restrictions amid a surge in new infections.

India reported more than 18,000 new cases, pushing its cumulative total over the half-million mark, the fourth highest globally behind the US, Brazil and Russia.

Global coronavirus cases and deaths
(PA Graphics)

Elsewhere, China and South Korea battled smaller outbreaks in their capitals.

Mrs Merkel said in her weekly video podcast that getting Europe’s economy back on track is her primary goal, as Germany takes over the rotating European Union presidency next week.

But she stressed that everyone shared a “joint responsibility” in following social distancing, mask and hygiene rules as lockdown rules are relaxed.

German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people last week after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for Covid-19, in an attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading across the area.

Germany has recorded nearly 195,000 coronavirus infections and only about 9,000 deaths, with more than 177,000 recoveries, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

“The risk posed by the virus is still serious,” Mrs Merkel said. “It’s easy to forget because Germany has got through the crisis well so far, but that doesn’t mean we are protected, that the risk has been averted – that is not the case, as is demonstrated by these regional outbreaks.”

Virus Outbreak Germany
Shopping is delivered to residents who are partly under quarantine due to a new outbreak in Verl, Germany (David Inderlied/dpa/AP)

Fans of Germany’s Schalke soccer club planned to demonstrate later in the day at the stadium against chairman Clemens Toennies, one of whose companies owns the slaughterhouse where the outbreak began.

Workplace and living conditions for migrant workers employed at the facility have come into focus after the outbreak.

In the US, the daily number of confirmed infections surged to an all-time high of 45,300 on Friday, eclipsing the previous high of 40,000 set the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins.

Newly reported cases per day have risen on average about 60% over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.

While the rise partly reflects expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the virus is making a comeback, including rising deaths in parts of the country and higher percentages of virus tests coming back positive.

About 600 people are dying every day with coronavirus in the US, down from a peak of around 2,200 in mid-April.

Virus Outbreak India
A massive survey to take down health details of New Delhi’s entire population of 28 million and test everyone with symptoms for Covid-19 started on Saturday (Manish Swarup/AP)

The virus is blamed for about 125,000 deaths and nearly 2.5 million confirmed infections nationwide in the US, by Johns Hopkins’ count.

Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to a half-million lives with nearly 10 million cases.

Egypt on Saturday lifted many restrictions, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theatres after more than three months of closure, despite a continued upward trend in new infections.

Authorities in other countries were taking a more cautious approach, with the Indian city of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, announcing a new two-week lockdown starting Monday, with night curfews and weekend lockdowns in the rest of the state.

India added 18,552 cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total to 508,953. The death toll reached 15,685.

China saw a rise in cases, one day after authorities said they expect an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control in the near future.

The National Health Commission reported 17 new cases in the nation’s capital, the most in a week, among 21 nationwide.

South Korea, where a resurgence in the past month threatens to erase the country’s earlier success, reported 51 new cases, including 35 in the Seoul metropolitan area.

By Press Association

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