While China moved closer to containing a fresh outbreak in Beijing, the coronavirus took a stronger hold elsewhere, including the United States, where surging infections across southern states have highlighted the risks of reopening economies without effective treatment or vaccines.
The United States currently counts the most infections in the world, while its daily jump in cases is nearing the peak reached during late April.
Arizona’s 3,056 additional infections reported Thursday was the fourth day in a week with an increase over 3,000. Transmissions have spiked following Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to lift stay-home restrictions in May.
Twenty-three per cent of tests conducted in the state over the past seven days have been positive, nearly triple the national average, and a record 415 patients were on ventilators.
The numbers “continue to go in the wrong direction,” said Ducey, who confirmed that the state has postponed further efforts to reopen.
He pushed back against reporters’ questions about his position on the use of masks and his attendance at President Donald Trump’s campaign event held indoors this week at a Phoenix church. Many of the 3,000 people who attended did not wear face coverings.
Mississippi announced a record 1,092 new cases of coronavirus, the second time this week its daily count reached new highs.
WATCH | States brace for impact of COVID-19 surge:
The daily average has climbed by more than 50 per cent over the past two weeks, an Associated Press analysis found. The true numbers are probably much higher because of limited testing and other factors. Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relying on blood tests, estimated Thursday that 20 million Americans have been infected. That is about six per cent of the population and nearly 10 times the 2.4 million confirmed cases.
Deaths tolls have dropped even as the number of infections have increased, possibly reflecting better medical treatments and better efforts to prevent infections among the most vulnerable, such as nursing home residents. A rising proportion of cases in the U.S. are among younger people, who are more likely than their elders to survive a bout with COVID-19.
“This is still serious,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but “we’re in a different situation today than we were in March or April.”
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
As of 8 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 102,622 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 65,425 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,552.
In Europe, the official in charge of Spain‘s response to COVID-19 says imported infections are a growing source of concern as the continent readies to welcome more visitors.
Epidemiologist Fernando Simon said Thursday that 54 people who had contracted the disease in the past week have been linked to recently arrived visitors in Spain. He suggested that controls should be strict and that regional and local governments should be ready to apply localized isolation to avoid spreading the disease.
In Britain, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the government has the power to close beaches and other public spaces amid growing concerns over the public’s adherence to physical distancing rules.
Huge crowds on English beaches Thursday prompted the concern. Trash bins overflowed, extra police were called and the rural roads gridlocked by beachgoers now have signs stating the area is full.
Watch | Massive crowds ignoring physical distancing rules flock to U.K. beaches:
Meanwhile, Sweden‘s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, lashed out at the World Health Organization on Friday, calling it “a total mistake” to put his nation on a list of countries where “accelerated transmission” could overwhelm health systems. “This is unfortunately a total misjudgment of the Swedish data,” Tegnell told Swedish radio.
The report by the WHO’s Europe office on Thursday named 11 countries, including Sweden, Armenia, Albania, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Sweden has seen a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, but this has been attributed to an increase in testing.
In Asia, the virus has seen a comeback. In China, where the pandemic originated in December, authorities have mobilized resources for mass testing and locked down parts of Beijing this month due to an outbreak that has infected 260 people. The 11 new cases reported in the capital Friday continued a downward trend, which suggests transmissions have been largely brought under control.
In Japan, officials recorded more than 100 new infections on Friday. It is the first time the country has seen numbers that high since May 9.
Meanwhile, another record daily increase in India on Friday pushed the country’s caseload toward half a million, and other countries with large populations like Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico grappled with large caseloads and strained health-care systems. The world’s fourth-most populous country, Indonesia, passed 50,000 cases on Thursday, with at least 2,620 deaths, the highest number of cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia. That’s up from just two positive cases in early March.
A comeback of the virus is also erasing hard-won gains in South Korea, which reported 39 newly confirmed cases on Friday, mostly from the densely populated capital area that had escaped the worst of the country’s outbreak in February and March. There’s criticism that authorities, concerned about a fragile economy, were too quick to ease physical distancing guidelines and reopen schools in May.
In Africa, an outbreak of diarrhea has killed nine people out of more than 1,500 cases in the past month in Zimbabwe‘s second-largest city, highlighting the problems for a weak public health system already struggling with rising cases of COVID-19.
At the same time, South Africa — which accounts for about half of the infections on the continent with 118,375 — reported a record 6,579 new cases, as transmissions increase after it loosened what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns earlier this month.