- Daily cases of COVID-19 top 50,000 in the U.S.
- Palestinian government orders five-day quarantine in the West Bank.
- India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 600,000.
- U.K. to lift quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries.
Governors of U.S. states hit hardest by the resurgent coronavirus halted or reversed steps to reopen their economies on Wednesday, led by California, the nation’s most populous state and a new epicentre of the pandemic.
New cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, shot up by nearly 50,000 in the U.S. on Wednesday, marking it the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic.
“The spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in ordering the closure of bars, bans on indoor dining and other restrictions in 19 counties, affecting more than 70 per cent of the state’s population.
The change in California, which was the first U.S. state to impose sweeping “stay-at-home” restrictions in March, will likely inflict more financial pain on the owners of bars and restaurants who have struggled to survive the pandemic.
The epicentre of the country’s COVID-19 epidemic has moved from the Northeast to California, Arizona and New Mexico in the West, along with Texas, Florida and Georgia.
Texas again topped its previous record on Wednesday with 8,076 new cases, while South Carolina reported 24 more coronavirus deaths, a single-day high for the state. Tennessee and Alaska also had record numbers of new cases on Wednesday.
The U.S. recorded nearly 48,000 new infections on Tuesday, including more than 8,000 each in California and Texas.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham, a Democrat, on Wednesday extended the state’s emergency public health order through July 15, saying that authorities would “aggressively” enforce mandatory mask rules.
“I want to be as clear as I can possibly be: New Mexico, in this moment, still has the power to change the terrible trajectory of this virus,” Grisham said. “But our time is limited. And we are staring down the barrel of what Texas, Arizona and many other hard-hit states are grappling with.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat whose city was for months at the centre of the U.S. outbreak, said Wednesday he would postpone a plan to allow indoor restaurant dining beginning Monday.
“We see a lot of problems and we particularly see problems revolving around people going back to bars and restaurants indoors, and indoors is the problem more and more,” de Blasio told reporters.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Americans are increasingly worried about the spread of COVID-19, the serious and sometimes fatal illness caused by the coronavirus.
Roughly seven in 10 Republicans said they were personally concerned about the virus’s spread, up from six in 10 in previous polls. About nine in 10 Democrats said they are similarly worried, a level of concern that has not changed.
Conservatives have generally been less willing to wear masks or follow other restrictions imposed by local authorities to stop the spread of the virus as the issue has become increasingly politicized.
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 104,271 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 67,746 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 8,663.
A new mobile app meant to help with contact tracing of COVID-19 cases won’t roll out across Ontario Thursday as planned.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health says the province is still working with the federal government and the app is expected to launch soon.
The province will be the first to use the COVID Alert app, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it should be ready for downloading in the rest of the country later this summer.
This comes as large parts of Ontario look to moving to Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan, with the spread of the coronavirus remaining slow in most public health units.
Meanwhile, Canadians celebrated a Canada Day like no other as they marked the national holiday under unprecedented circumstances.
Canada Day 2020 took place amid both a global pandemic and a growing conversation about systemic racism in society.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of high-profile events and large celebrations like the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill in favour of backyard barbecues and online offerings to keep crowds from gathering.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
The Palestinian Authority has announced a five-day quarantine in the West Bank in response to a major increase in coronavirus cases and deaths in recent days.
The Palestinian government says the lockdown will take effect Friday, and people will be required to shelter at home. A two-month total lockdown of the Palestinian territory was lifted in late May.
In the past two weeks, Palestinian health authorities have reported more than 1,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the West Bank city of Hebron and hundreds more in Bethlehem and Nablus.
The occupied West Bank has a total of 3,045 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 400,000 and deaths have crossed 10,000 as health officials warn the pandemic is picking up speed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says confirmed cases are now above 404,000 on the 54-nation continent, while testing capabilities remain low because of shortages of materials.
South Africa leads the continent with more than 151,000 confirmed cases. An emerging hot spot is in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, with 28 per cent of the country’s cases.
Kazakhstan will implement a second, softer lockdown for two weeks from Sunday to help combat a surge in coronavirus cases, the government said on Thursday.
Authorities will close some non-essential businesses, limit travel between provinces, cut public transit services’ hours of operation and ban public gatherings. The measures may be tightened or extended later, the cabinet said in a statement.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered new curbs after coronavirus cases in the Central Asian country rose more than sevenfold following the lifting of its first, more restrictive lockdown in mid-May.
South Korea says it has confirmed 54 more COVID-19 cases as the coronavirus continues to spread beyond the capital region and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens fell sick this week.
The figures reported Thursday brought the national case total to 12,904, including 282 deaths.
Health Minster Park Neung-hoo is expressing alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week.
China is reporting three newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, and says just one of them involved local transmission in the capital of Beijing.
The report Thursday appears to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily.
The National Health Commission says the other two cases were brought from outside China. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,537 total cases of COVID-19.
China is moving swiftly to reopen its economy, but mass unemployment looms as the heavily indebted government is reluctant to spend lavishly on stimulus programs.
With new coronavirus cases in Tokyo surging to a two-month high, Japan faces the prospect of a second wave without the experts who tackled the first phase of the epidemic.
Instead, a new panel comprising a Nobel-prize winning geneticist, an artificial intelligence expert and a cardiologist will advise the government, as Japan seeks to revitalize its recession-hit economy.
The reshuffle has raised concerns among some health experts over Japan’s risk management capability as the pandemic could re-intensify.
India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 600,000 on Thursday, with 17,834 deaths, as authorities battled to contain the pandemic while easing lockdown rules, officials and the health ministry said.
Fresh challenges to protect people from the virus emerged for disaster management officials in the northeast state of Assam amid torrential rainfall, where floods and landslides killed 57 people this week and more than 1.5 million were forced to flee their homes.
Assam’s health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said the state had started testing aggressively to identify coronavirus cases among villagers forced to take shelter in community halls, schools and government buildings.
The United Kingdom’s government will effectively ditch its air bridge plans and simply end the coronavirus quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries so that people can go on holiday, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The newspaper said the U.K. would shortly lift a ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations, including Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been grappling with how to open up international travel after it imposed a two-week quarantine for arrivals, which has added to the woes of the shuttered tourism and travel industry.
Indonesia is working to produce its own COVID-19 vaccine next year, amid growing anxiety that developing countries could have difficulty getting access to a future jab, the head of Indonesia’s national COVID-19 research team said Thursday.
“The production capability and capacity of biotech companies in the world is, we know, limited, and global supply chains also have challenges,” Ali Ghufron Mukti, head of the innovation team at Indonesia’s research and technology ministry, said.
“Therefore, it is necessary for Indonesia to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine. And it will be by Indonesia, from Indonesia, to Indonesia,” he said.