Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, allowed some businesses to reopen on Wednesday following a fall in daily deaths from the coronavirus pandemic that had for weeks required the city to remain in quarantine, Reuters reports.
Guayaquil in March and April faced a brutal outbreak of the virus that left hospitals overwhelmed and authorities struggling to collect the bodies of presumed Covid-19 victims.
Public transportation and private vehicles were again circulating in the coastal city on Wednesday and open air markets and shopping malls began opening their doors. Bars, restaurants and movie theaters remain closed.
Guayaquil’s municipal government said in a social media video that daily death rates linked to Covid-19 in Guayaquil had dropped to around 10 per day in May from a peak of 460 in April.
“In the home there is hunger, outside there is the coronavirus,” Mayor Cynthia Viteri told reporters. “We have to find a balance so that people can work and take care of themselves.”
Municipal offices opened to the public with limited hours. The city is maintaining a curfew and some restrictions on vehicle traffic. Domestic and international flights remain halted.
Ecuador officially has 34,854 infections and 2,888 deaths from the virus. But the government recognizes that the figures are probably much higher because of limited testing.
Mexico’s health ministry on Wednesday registered 2,248 new coronavirus infections and an additional 424 fatalities, a record one-day death toll since the start of the pandemic.
The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 56,594 and 6,090 deaths in total, according to the official tally.
Mexico registered its biggest daily increase yet in infections on Tuesday, when it reported 2,713 new cases. Mexico’s highest daily death toll was on 12 May, when health authorities reported 353 fatalities.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told the Washington Post – in an interview about US President Donald Trump’s promise to deliver a vaccine by the end of the year, in what the White House has called “Operation Warp Speed,” – that he is concerned this name will make people worry that their safety could be at risk.
Fauci said in the interview, “People don’t understand that, because when they hear ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ they think, ‘Oh, my God, they’re jumping over all these steps and they’re going to put us at risk.”
The Washington Post writes:
No steps would be eliminated, [Dr Fauci] vowed. Rather, multiple steps — from collecting data to preparing to scale up the number of potential doses — would be pursued at once, creating “risk for the investment” but not for the patient or the “integrity of the study.”
Colombia’s capital Bogota is using police drones to detect people with high temperatures or those violating the country’s coronavirus quarantine, Reuters reports.
If a drone detects someone with a potential fever it sends the location to a medical team that seeks out the person to determine if they have coronavirus symptoms, officials said on Wednesday.
“It facilitates the location of groups of people day or night,” said Captain Jorge Humberto Caceres, head of the police drone unit, as he monitored an area of northern Bogota with a thermal camera-equipped drone.
“It gives us an approximate body temperature and directs the case to a national system so it can be attended to.”
The drones only detect temperatures or groupings of people who are out on the street, the police said, and do not penetrate into houses or apartments. The country has been in a coronavirus lockdown for nearly two months.
Bogota – home to some 8 million people – has more than a third of Colombia’s nearly 17,000 coronavirus cases.
Europe should brace for second wave, says EU coronavirus chief
In case you missed this Guardian exclusive:
The prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infection across Europe is no longer a distant theory, according to the director of the EU agency responsible for advising governments – including the UK – on disease control.
“The question is when and how big, that is the question in my view,” said Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Ammon, a former adviser to the German government, speaks frankly in her first interview with a UK newspaper since the crisis began.
Earlier this month the former hospital doctor, who worked through the various levels of healthcare bureaucracy to be become ECDC director in 2017, announced that, as of 2 May, Europe as a whole had passed the peak of infections. Only Poland was technically not yet there, she said.
European governments have started easing their lockdown restrictions, some to the extent that bars and restaurants will soon reopen, others rather more tentatively. Boris Johnson has tweaked his message to Britons from “stay at home” to “stay alert” and is seeking to send pupils back into schools in a fortnight.
Global cases near 5 million
After the biggest single-day increase in cases worldwide so far in the pandemic, the number of confirmed infections is close to 5 million, with the Johns Hopkins University data currently listing 4,968,133.
The true number is likely to be significantly higher, due to differing testing rates, delays and underreporting. This is true for deaths, too. At least 326,464 people have lost their lives in the pandemic so far.
Here are the 15 worst-affected countries by total cases:
- US: 1,548,646 (Deaths: 93,214)
- Russia: 308,705 (Deaths: 2,972)
- Brazil: 271,628 (Deaths: 17,971)
- United Kingdom: 249,616 (Deaths: 35,785)
- Spain: 232,555 (Deaths: 27,888)
- Italy: 227,364 (Deaths: 32,330)
- France: 181,700 (Deaths: 28,135)
- Germany: 178,473 (Deaths: 8,144)
- Turkey: 152,587 (Deaths: 4,222)
- Iran: 126,949 (Deaths: 7,183)
- India: 112,028 (Deaths: 3,434)
- Peru: 104,020 (Deaths: 3,024)
- China: 84,063 (Deaths: 4,638)
- Canada: 81,530 (Deaths: 6,147)
- Saudi Arabia: 62,545 (Deaths: 339)
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the world sees the highest daily increase in confirmed cases so far – with 106,000 cases in 24 hours – the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic is far from over. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic. We are very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries,” he said.
Meanwhile Europe’s director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the agency responsible for advising governments, including the UK, on disease control, has said that Europe should brace for a second wave of infections – “The question is when and how big. That is the question in my view,” said Dr Andrea Ammon.
“Looking at the characteristics of the virus, looking at what now emerges from the different countries in terms of population immunity – which isn’t all that exciting, between 2% and 14%, that leaves still 85% to 90% of the population susceptible – the virus is around us, circulating much more than January and February … I don’t want to draw a doomsday picture but I think we have to be realistic. That it’s not the time now to completely relax,” she said.
Here are the top developments from the last few hours:
- World sees largest daily rise in cases. The World Health Organization gave a stark warning on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, after 106,000 new cases were recorded worldwide over the past 24 hours – the most in a single day so far. Speaking in Geneva, the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the virus was spreading in poorer countries, just as wealthier nations were emerging from lockdown.
- Europe should brace itself for a second wave of coronavirus infections, according to the director of the EU agency responsible for advising governments on disease control. “The question is when and how big. That is the question in my view,” said Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
- Trump considers an in-person G7 meeting despite coronavirus pandemic. Donald Trump has said he may seek to revive a face-to-face meeting of Group of Seven leaders near Washington, after earlier canceling the gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I am considering rescheduling the G-7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, DC, at the legendary Camp David,” the US president tweeted on Wednesday. “The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all – normalization!”
- International imports and exports have fallen to their lowest level for at least four years, according to World Trade Organization figures. Warning that there was little prospect of the downturn ending soon, the global authority on trade said it believed import and export activity would fall precipitously in the first half of 2020.
- Tourists will be welcomed back to Greece from 15 June, the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has announced. “The tourism period begins June 15, when seasonal hotels can reopen, and direct international flights to our tourist destinations will gradually begin 1 July,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address.
- South Africa records its first neonatal coronavirus death. South Africa has recorded its first neonatal coronavirus death, the country’s health ministry has said.The two-day old baby was born prematurely and had lung difficulties that required ventilation support immediately after birth, the health minister Zweli Mkhize said.
- France is to launch a complete shake-up of its health system, widely considered to be one of the best in the world, yet exposed by the pandemic. President Macron had already promised to overhaul the “salaries, careers, speciality training and professional situation” of staff, and to invest and reform financing of the health system.
- The arrival in Bangladesh of possibly the most powerful cyclone in more than a decade complicated coronavirus containment measures. Authorities were attempting to move 2.2 million people to safety as Cyclone Amphan made landfall on Wednesday morning, after days brewing in the Bay of Bengal.
- Amnesty International has urged governments to conduct urgent search operations to find as many as 1,000 Rohingya refugees who are stranded at sea and at risk of being hit by the cyclone. Rights groups said governments were using the pandemic as an excuse to turn away boats carrying stranded refugees, who may have been at sea for months.
- The Trump administration called on the UN to remove references to sexual health from its Covid-19 humanitarian response plan. In a letter to the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, the acting administrator for the US agency for international development, John Barsa, urged the UN to “stay focused on life-saving interventions”.
- The US president, Donald Trump, lashed out at Beijing, blaming it for “mass worldwide killing”. Trump referred to an unidentified “wacko in China”, in the latest in a series of attacks aimed at the country that he appears to be trying to frame as the centrepiece of his reelection bid.
- Oxfam International is to lay off almost 1,500 staff and close operations in 18 countries – including Afghanistan where it has worked for 50 years – after it emerged that the global aid organisation had been bleeding cash during the coronavirus crisis. The NGO has seen its funding model hit by an accumulation of crises.