The global death toll from COVID-19 could reach 2 million before a vaccine is readily available and could be even higher without strenuous efforts to prevent the spread of the novel virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
“Unless we do it (take concerted action) … the number you speak about (2 million deaths) is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely,” Mike Ryan, head of the UN agency’s emergencies program, said in a briefing.
This figure would see the world’s death toll doubling from the current one million confirmed fatalities from COVID-19 since the virus first emerged at the turn of the year in China.
Authorities in Madrid on Friday announced expanded partial lockdowns in the Spanish capital, with restrictions now in place in 45 neighborhoods covering more than 1 million people.
Residents will be required to stay in their neighborhoods unless they have to go to work, to school or to the doctor. Bars, restaurants and businesses will remain open at reduced capacity.
The movement restrictions were announced as more than 1,000 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 inhabitants were registered over the past two weeks in the affected areas.
Spain’s national government had recommended harsher measures, including a partial lockdown covering Madrid’s 3.3 million residents, but regional authorities preferred a softer approach saying they had the sole authority to make the decision.
In the United Kingdom, local lockdowns are being imposed in several cities where COVID-19 infections have risen sharply.
In the city of Leeds in northern England, authorities said people would be prohibited from meeting members of other households indoors or in backyards, in a measure that affects over 750,000 people.
Read more: Coronavirus digest: UK at a ‘perilous turning point’
In Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli in Wales, people from different households are also banned from meeting indoors.
London has been labeled an “area of concern,” and restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to rise. Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “London is at a very worrying tipping point right now.”
The UK reported its highest number of COVID-19 infections in a single day on Thursday, with over 6,600 infections.
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In view of the rising number of infections in Berlin, the German capital is once again considering imposing new restrictions.
Dilek Kalayci, Berlin’s state minister for health, told local media outlet RBB it is possible that in future a maximum of five people or people from just two households may meet.
She also agreed with the representatives of the inner city districts to restrict private parties — limiting gatherings to 50 people outside and 25 people indoors. “We have a very serious situation in Berlin. We must act,” said the politician. In their daily update, Berlin health authorities reported 159 new infections.
Late on Friday, Germany’s Foreign Ministry added three additional regions — including popular Alpine holiday destination Tirol in Austria — to its list of places deemed high-risk areas. The entirety of the Czech Republic and Luxembourg were also added to the list.
German airline Lufthansa is expecting the German government to approve rapid COVID-19 testing at airports for Lufthansa flights to the US, the airline’s CEO Carsten Spohr told an aviation industry conference.
Passengers would be tested before boarding and would receive results in minutes. Spohr said the tests are necessary to open up important trans-Atlantic routes.
He added the first flights with quick-tested passengers could take off this year, and hopes for a test-based network of trans-Atlantic flights to be in place by the second quarter of 2021. Like most in the aviation sector, Lufthansa has endured a torrid pandemic.
Strict nationwide lockdown measures went into effect in Israel, although lawmakers are bitterly divided over approving legal measures enforcing Synagogue closures during the Jewish High Holidays and restrictions on public demonstrations.
The government also ordered all nonessential businesses to close and for people to not venture more than 1,000 meters from their homes until at least October 10.
Per capita, Israel currently has one of the most severe COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, with around 7,000 new cases a day among a population of 9 million.
Read more: Coronavirus digest: WHO makes fresh appeal for joint pandemic effort
The UN’s humanitarian coordinator said that the consequences of coronavirus are deadlier in Yemen than almost anywhere else in the world, due to the compounding factor of war, famine, cholera and shattered public infrastructure.
“At the height of the first wave, we estimate that the case mortality rate reached nearly 30%, one of the highest in the world,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande told Germany’s DPA news agency.
China has hit back at the United States over its constant criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
This week President Donald Trump used his annual address to the UN General Assembly to attack China’s record while the US ambassador to the UN also took an outraged tone, prompting Chinese envoy Zhang Jun to tell the Security Council: “I must say, enough is enough! You have created enough troubles for the world already.”
“The US has nearly seven million confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths. With the most advanced medical technologies and system in the world, why has the US turned out to have the most confirmed cases and fatalities?” he asked in English. “If someone should be held accountable, it should be a few US politicians themselves.”
Indonesia has reported its biggest daily rise of coronavirus infections for a third consecutive day, with its capital, Jakarta, becoming the epicenter of the new outbreak.
California is experiencing upticks in coronavirus cases. The state health secretary, Mark Ghaly, said that there have been increases in infections, hospital emergency department visits and new hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
Ghaly said the spike appears largely down to the Labor Day holiday that occurred earlier this month and could lead to an 89% surge in hospitalizations over the course of the next month. The health expert said California is set to have another hot weekend, which could lead to more people gathering while he urged citizens to maintain social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Costa Rican government has signed up for the WHO’s COVAX vaccine program to be able to pre-order more than one million doses of its inoculations once they become available. The figure represents a fifth of Costa Rica’s population.
wmr, jsi/sri (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)