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South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear disinfect a train station in Daejeon, South Korea, today. Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via AP/PA Images

Covid-19 precautions increase after cases surge in various hotspots worldwide

Indonesia is expected to pass the 50,000 mark for confirmed infections today.

GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES are ramping up precautions after the number of Covid-19 cases surged in various parts of the world.

Indonesia is expected to pass the 50,000 mark for confirmed infections today.

In Melbourne, health workers planned to go door to door to test more than 100,000 residents in a coronavirus hotspot that threatens to undo the nation’s success in battling the virus. 

Australia’s military plans to send 1,000 troops to Melbourne in an effort to help contain the country’s only significant coronavirus outbreak over fears of a second wave.

In the Indian capital of New Delhi, which has reported more than 70,000 cases, authorities said they would conduct house-to-house screening over the coming two weeks.

With the city’s hospitals overwhelmed, military personnel were providing care at makeshift medical wards fashioned from train carriages.

India reported a record high 16,922 cases today, taking the national total to 473,105, with nearly 15,000 deaths.

The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing.

World financial markets were rattled by the setbacks in fighting the pandemic, which cloud prospects for recoveries of economies mired in their worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Asian shares fell today after the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 700 points overnight for a drop of 2.7% and the broader S&P 500 fell 2.6%.

China and South Korea

In China, where the virus first appeared late last year, an outbreak in Beijing appeared to have been brought under control.

China reported 19 newly confirmed cases nationwide amid mass testing in the capital. Case numbers both nationally and in Beijing were up by only single digits yesterday.

South Korea was still struggling to quell an outbreak there, reporting 28 new cases today, mostly associated with nightlife, churches, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sales.

But the numbers have not reached the hundreds of new cases every day in late February and early March.

While some governments are considering more aggressive action to stem fresh outbreaks, in other places such precautions are being unwound.

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Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, ended a months-long nightly curfew, with the city-state’s media office saying in a tweet that there would be free movement all day and night as long as people wore masks and maintained social distancing.

European nations appear on track to reopen their shared borders by 1 July, and their EU representatives debated criteria for lifting restrictions on visitors from outside Europe.

Americans are unlikely to be allowed in, given how the pandemic is flaring in the US and President Donald Trump’s ban on Europeans entering the United States.

Surge in US cases

American hospital administrators and health experts warned yesterday that politicians, and the public tired of being cooped up, are letting a disaster unfold.

The 34,700 Covid-19 cases reported on Tuesday returned the US to near its late April peak of 36,400 new cases in one day, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced their states, which were devastated by early outbreaks that appear to be under control, will require travellers from certain states to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

The quarantine applies to people coming from states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average, or with a 10% or higher positive rate over seven days.

Several states have set single-day case records this week. They include Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma. Some also broke hospitalisation records, as did North Carolina and South Carolina.

The virus has been blamed for over 120,000 US deaths — the highest toll in the world — and more than 2.3 million confirmed infections nationwide. Yesterday, the widely cited University of Washington computer model of the outbreak projected nearly 180,000 deaths by 1 October.

“People got complacent,” Dr Marc Boom, CEO of the Houston Methodist hospital system, said. “And it’s coming back and biting us, quite frankly.”

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