Virus expands grip in many areas as US nears 100,000 deaths
South Korea reported 40 newly confirmed cases – the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days.
South Korea reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections in weeks on Wednesday and India reported another record single-day jump of more than 6,000 cases, as the pandemic expanded its grip across much of the globe.
Still, optimism over reopening economies from business shutdowns to fight the virus spurred a rally on Wall Street, even as the official US death toll approached 100,000.
Outbreaks are still climbing in much of the Americas, while many countries in Asia and much of Europe are making steady progress in containing the deadliest pandemic in a century.
Cyprus announced on Wednesday that it was preparing to welcome tourists back on June 9 and would cover all costs — lodging, food, drink and medication — for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus, and their family members, while on holiday in the east Mediterranean island nation.
The pledge came in a five-page letter that was sent out to governments, airlines and tour operators outlining strict health and hygiene protocols, including a requirement for Covid-19 testing three days before departure, as the tourism-reliant country seeks to woo travellers.
Cyprus has confirmed about 940 cases of the virus and fewer than 20 deaths.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday that there were no Covid-19 patients under treatment in hospitals.
The nation took aggressive and early action to stop transmissions and has reported only 21 deaths. It has 21 active cases out of 1,504 confirmed and probable ones.
In South Korea, 40 newly confirmed cases — the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days — raised alarm as millions of children were returning to school.
All but four of the new cases were in the densely populated Seoul region, where officials are scrambling to stop transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and an e-commerce warehouse.
South Korea has reported 269 deaths and 11,265 cases, after managing to contain a severe earlier outbreak.
Authorities were testing 3,600 employees of a local e-commerce giant, Coupang, after discovering dozens of coronavirus infections linked to workers at the company’s warehouse near Seoul.
India saw another record single-day jump, reporting 6,387 new cases on Wednesday, as the government prepared new guidelines for the next phase of a two-month-old national lockdown that is due to end on Sunday.
In the Americas, from Mexico to Chile, health officials were reporting surging coronavirus cases and overwhelmed hospitals.
Mexico’s health department reported 501 deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday, a new one-day high, and 3,455 more infections.
Its daily death toll is approaching that of the US, at about 620.
Brazil currently leads in daily deaths with more than 800.
Authorities in Chile said their intensive care units were near full capacity, with about 4,000 new cases being confirmed daily.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult time,” health minister Jaime Mañalich said.
A US travel ban took effect on Tuesday for foreigners coming from Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has raged against state and local leaders enforcing stay-at-home measures despite warnings that the outbreak is deepening.
Brazil has about 375,000 coronavirus infections — second only to the 1.6 million cases in the US — and has counted over 23,000 deaths, but many fear Brazil’s true toll is much higher.
Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.6 million people and killed over 350,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths, while the US has reported more than 98,900 in a span of less than four months, more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.
The true death toll is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of the virus without ever being tested for it.