WHO warns COVID-19 epidemics ‘far from over’ in Asia and Pacific
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that while attention has shifted to epicenters in Western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific.
Urging governments at all levels in the region to stay engaged in efforts to combat the virus, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai said, “This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard. We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”
He said the WHO realizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach but there are common tactics. “Those are: finding, isolating and testing case early, tracing and quarantining contact quickly, and putting in place multiple public health interventions to place physical distance between people to slow and stop transmission.”
Takeshi also cautioned that countries still need to prepare for large-scale community transmission.
“We need to be clear that even with all of these measures, the risk will not go away as long as the pandemic continues. Rather, these measures can buy us valuable time to prepare,” he said.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, which outbreak started in China’s Wuhan City in Hubei province in late 2019.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Globally, the virus already infected more than 785,800 people and killed more than 37,800 as of March 31. On the other hand, over 165,655 people have recovered so far from the disease. / Associated Press .
COVID-19 death toll reaches more than 36,000 worldwide
More than two-thirds of the deaths from coronavirus have been recorded in Europe.
A total 757,940 declared cases have been registered in 184 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 148,700 are now considered recovered.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP offices from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.
Many countries are only testing cases that require hospitalisation.
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Italy, which recorded its first coronavirus death at the end of February, has 11,591 fatalities, with 101,739 infections and 14,620 people recovered.
Spain has recorded 7,340 fatalities, including 812 in the past 24 hours, and 85,195 infections.
China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 3,304 deaths and 81,470 cases, with 75,448 recoveries. It has recorded 31 new infections and four new deaths since Sunday.
France has reported 3,024 deaths and 44,550 cases.
The United States has the highest number of infected people with 153,246 diagnosed cases, 2,828 deaths and 5,545 recoveries. US cases have soared from 41,511 one week ago.
Since 1900 GMT on Sunday, Angola announced its first death and Botswana has reported its first case.
Europe has listed 413,832 cases and 26,543 deaths to date, Asia 106,891 cases and 3,837 deaths, the Middle East 51,377 cases and 2,856 deaths, the US and Canada together have 160,532 cases with 2,898 deaths, Latin America and the Caribbean 15,334 cases with 357 deaths, Africa 5,113 cases with 163 deaths and Oceania 4,865 cases with 20 deaths. — Agence France-Presse
Global lockdown tightens as virus deaths mount
A woman prays in front of the doors of Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem following its closure due to the coronavirus.
PARIS: Lockdowns aimed at halting the march of the coronavirus pandemic have extended worldwide as the US outbreak continued to accelerate with the death toll there passing 3,000.
Despite slivers of hope in stricken Italy, tough measures that have confined two-fifths of the globe’s population to their homes are being broadened.
Moscow and Lagos joined the roll call of cities around the world with empty streets, while Virginia and Maryland became the latest US states to announce stay-at-home orders, followed quickly by Washington DC.
A US military medical ship steamed into New York, where it will relieve pressure on the city’s badly stretched health system. A field hospital set up in Central Park was due to go online later Tuesday.
The scale and speed of the US pandemic continued to expand, with the death toll topping 3,000 out of 163,000 known infections — the highest case count for any single country.
President Donald Trump sought to reassure Americans that authorities were ramping up distribution of desperately needed equipment like ventilators and personal protective gear.
But he also offered a stark warning, saying “challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days” as he acknowledged a potential nationwide stay-at-home order.
“We’re sort of putting it all on the line,” Trump said, likening the efforts against coronavirus to a “war.”
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the world rose above 784,000, with 413,000 of those in Europe, which also has the lion’s share of the deaths, according to an AFP tally.
World leaders — several of whom have been stricken or forced into isolation — are still grappling for ways to deal with a crisis that is generating economic and social shockwaves unseen since World War II.
Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed “closer cooperation” and addressed plunging oil prices in a Monday call, the Kremlin said.
Putin’s government was getting to grips with its own outbreak, with the Russian strongman urging residents of Moscow to respect a lockdown that has closed all non-essential shops, and left Red Square deserted.
Anna, a 36-year-old web designer, said the lockdown would be hard for her and her five-year-old daughter. “But I don’t want Arina to get sick,” she told AFP on her way to buy bread. “So of course we will observe the quarantine.”
– ‘Work continues’ –
After weeks of a national lockdown in Italy, signs were emerging that drastic action could be slowing the spread of the disease.
Even though the country’s death toll grew by 812 in 24 hours to 11,591, the number of infections climbed just 4.1%.
“The data are better but our work continues,” said Giulio Gallera, the chief medical officer of Lombardy, Italy’s worst-hit region.
Spain announced another 812 virus deaths in 24 hours, taking it past China, where the disease first emerged in December.
Even with the US health system stretched, Trump said he was ordering some excess medical equipment be sent to Italy, France and Spain.
– ‘Nothing to eat’ –
The lockdowns are causing hardship across the world but particularly in impoverished cities in Africa and Asia.
Africa’s biggest city, Lagos, joined the global stay-at-home from Monday, with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordering a two-week lockdown for its 20 million people. The measures also apply to the capital Abuja.
“Two weeks is too long. I don’t know how we will cope,” said student Abdul Rahim, 25, as he helped his sister sell food from a market stall.
Impoverished Zimbabwe also began enforcing a three-week lockdown.
“They need to be fed, but there is nothing to eat,” vegetable vendor Irene Ruwisi said in the township of Mbare, pointing at her four grandchildren. “How do they expect us to survive?”
The shutdown has already put millions out of work and forced governments to rush through huge stimulus plans.
Experts in Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, said the virus would shrink output there this year by up to 5.4%.
The World Bank warned the economic fallout from the pandemic could cause Chinese growth to shudder to a halt, and thrust millions of East Asians into poverty.
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