Seoul (AFP) – North Korea declared its first suspected coronavirus case on Sunday, changing into one of many final nations to take action because the variety of folks contaminated worldwide handed 16 million.
The remoted, impoverished state had till now insisted it had not detected a single COVID-19 case — even because the pandemic swept the planet, overwhelming well being techniques and trashing the worldwide financial system.
Not less than 645,000 folks around the globe have succumbed to the respiratory illness, with North Korean arch-rival the USA the worst-hit nation by far.
“The vicious virus may very well be stated to have entered the nation,” chief Kim Jong Un stated, in line with the official KCNA information company.
Authorities locked down town of Kaesong, close to the frontier with South Korea, as state media stated a defector who left for the South three years in the past had returned and was suspected to be contaminated with the coronavirus.
However specialists imagine the contagion is more likely to have already entered North Korea from neighbouring China, the place the brand new illness emerged late final yr.
The pandemic’s unfold remains to be accelerating, with greater than 5 million instances declared since July — a 3rd of the entire variety of instances because the disaster started.
Even in current days there was an alarming uptick in infections, together with in locations that had appeared to have managed their outbreaks.
A type of was Australia, which on Sunday suffered its deadliest day because the pandemic started, with 10 fatalities and an increase in new infections regardless of an intense lockdown effort.
“This stuff change quickly, however we’ve to say these numbers are far too excessive,” stated Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria state, the place the newest outbreak is centred.
– No fireworks –
Round 1 / 4 of the world’s 16 million confirmed COVID-19 instances are in the USA, which recorded greater than 68,000 new infections up to now 24 hours.
After a drop in transmission charges in late spring, the nation has seen a virus surge — significantly in California, Florida and Texas, which can be bracing for the primary Atlantic hurricane of the yr.
Each day US fatalities have exceeded 1,000 for the previous 4 days, quickly growing the nation’s demise toll to greater than 146,000.
“I’m nonetheless involved that America doesn’t take it as critically as the remainder of the world,” stated British golf star Lee Westwood, voicing his hesitation to journey there regardless of a brand new quarantine exemption for skilled golfers.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, which additionally rely for 1 / 4 of complete instances, governments are usually not planning a return to normality any time quickly.
New 12 months’s Eve celebrations on Copacabana Seaside in Rio de Janeiro have been cancelled as Brazil grapples with a spiralling virus disaster.
“There isn’t any nice motive to rejoice, with greater than 80,000 deaths” from coronavirus in Brazil, an official advised AFP.
– Vacation woes –
In the meantime Europe has reported round three million infections — regardless of being largely open for summer season holidays throughout the continent.
Nonetheless in a snap resolution, Britain’s authorities stated passengers arriving from Spain must self-isolate for 2 weeks, after a surge in instances within the Mediterranean nation, with well being officers pointing to nightlife as a doable offender.
The transfer, efficient from Sunday, has reportedly caught out its Transport Minister Grant Shapps who’s holidaying there.
“Numerous authorities ministers would have recognized prematurely there was a risk of imposing a quarantine on holidaymakers getting back from Spain,” tweeted opposition MP Diane Abbot.
“However apparently no-one bothered to inform @grantshapps,” she joked.
It marked one other hit to Spain’s tourism business, which is desperately in search of a rebound after lockdowns and border closures pushed round 13 p.c of bars, resorts and eating places to completely shut.
It mirrors the fiscal ache wrought around the globe by the pandemic, significantly in precarious economies the place livelihoods are quick crumbling.
In India, for example, tens of millions of migrant staff who fled cities when COVID-19 hit say they’re too scared to return.
Asia’s third largest financial system has reported greater than 1.three million virus instances and is the third worst hit nation behind the US and Brazil.
“We try our greatest to convey again migrant staff, even going to the extent of giving them air tickets, COVID-19 medical health insurance … (and) weekly checkups by docs,” actual property developer Rajesh Prajapati stated.
“However it has not reaped any constructive indicators but.”