Coronavirus cases surging in India, pushing the country’s total to half a million

The latest:

India‘s confirmed coronavirus cases crossed half a million on Saturday with another record 24-hour jump of 18,552 infections.

The country’s Health Ministry reported 384 new deaths, raising the total to 15,685.

The surge prompted authorities in the northeastern state of Assam to impose a two-week lockdown in the state capital of Gauhati. About 700 new cases were reported there in just four days.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the rest of Assam will be placed under a night curfew and weekend lockdowns.

He urged people to store essential goods and signalled a tighter lockdown where even grocery stores would be closed.

China has reported an uptick in new coronavirus cases, a day after health experts said they expect an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control soon. The National Health Commission said Saturday that 21 cases had been confirmed nationwide in the latest 24-hour period, including 17 in the nation’s capital.

City officials have temporarily shut a huge wholesale food market where the virus spread widely, reclosed schools and locked down some neighbourhoods.

China has reported 83,483 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths in the global pandemic.

South Korea has reported 51 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus as fresh clusters continue to emerge in the densely populated Seoul area.

They bring the national caseload to 12,653, including 282 deaths. Thirty-five of the new cases came from Seoul and nearby cities and towns, which have been at the centre of a COVID-19 resurgence since late May. Twelve others were linked to international arrivals.

More than 9.82 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and more than 494,000 have died, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Russia on Saturday reported 6,852 new coronavirus cases, a figure that keeps the daily rise below 7,000 for a second day in a row for the first time since late April. The new cases take the cumulative nationwide tally to 627,646.

A woman casts her early vote in a nationwide ballot on constitutional reforms at a polling station in Moscow on Friday. Election officials opened polls ahead of the official July 1 vote to avoid overcrowding that could spread coronavirus infections. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP via Getty Images)

The country’s coronavirus response centre said 188 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 8,969.

On Friday, the United States recorded 45,242 new cases of COVID-19, the largest single-day increase of the pandemic, according to a Reuters tally, bringing the total number of Americans who have tested positive to at least 2.48 million.

The new record for positive COVID-19 tests comes as several states at the centre of a new surge in infections took steps back from efforts to ease restrictions on businesses. COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

Texas bars ordered closed

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars across the state to close by midday on Friday and required restaurants to limit indoor seating capacity to 50 per cent, while Florida state officials told bars to immediately stop serving alcohol on their premises.

A woman wearing a face mask stands near people in cars lined up to be tested for COVID-19 as they make their way to a parking lot at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium on Friday. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Abbott’s announcement stunned Texas bar owners, who said the governor, a Republican in his second term, had given them little notice. Mark Martinez, owner of a Lubbock beer garden, learned only when friends texted him the news at around 8 a.m.

“I spent thousands of dollars in inventory getting ready for this weekend. I could have really used that [money] for my rent, which is due next week,” said Martinez, 44.

WATCH | Houston hospitals ‘weeks away’ from limit:

Health care officials in Houston say most hospitals in the city are operating with 90 per cent of intensive care unit beds occupied. 1:47

“We were just getting to where we could pay the bills,” said Tish Keller, owner of the Triple J Chophouse and Brew Co. in downtown Lubbock. “Taking us back down to 50 per cent capacity means we won’t have enough business to pay staff, let alone the bills.”

Keller said she didn’t know how long she could stay open and dreaded trying to save her business from ruin twice in one year.

Cases surge in Florida

Florida issued its new rules after recording a startling 8,942 new cases of COVID-19, eclipsing the state’s one-day record of 5,511 reached on June 24.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that Imperial County, southeast of Los Angeles, has become so overwhelmed by the virus that he was recommending it issue a strict new stay-at-home order.

Imperial County health officials later tweeted that its stay-at-home order imposed in March remained in place. The county board of supervisors scheduled a meeting for Friday night to consider further action.

Newsom has paused allowing counties to further reopen their economies in response to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.

In Alaska, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued an emergency order requiring residents to wear masks in public indoor spaces after the state identified 836 cases as of Friday, 387 of them in his city.

WATCH | U.S. specialist calls on young people to accept ‘societal responsibility’:

The top U.S. infectious disease specialist called on young people to accept ‘societal responsibility’  amid a surge of positive tests for coronavirus. 1:03

Also reporting record rises in cases this week were Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Almost 125,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, the highest known death toll from the highly infections disease in the world.


What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

As of 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 102,794 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 65,726 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 8,556.


Elsewhere in the world

In Australia, the state of Victoria recorded 41 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, double the daily rate seen a week ago.

One of the new cases was a returned traveller. Australia requires all locals who return to quarantine in hotels for two weeks. But about 30 per cent of people in Victoria have declined a COVID-19 test before leaving quarantine, health officials said.

WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on global response to COVID-19:

Dr. Michael Gardam says U.S. figures suggesting the coronavirus is 10 times more widespread than official statistics indicate could very well be accurate. 6:42

Despite the spike in cases in Victoria, Australia’s infections numbers of around 7,600 and 104 deaths have remained well below that of many other nations.

On Friday, the government said that the country will continue easing social distancing restrictions, and Tennis Australia said on Saturday that record numbers of people have been block-booking tennis courts. 

Britain will scrap a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving from countries it deems to be at lower risk for COVID-19, and official advice against all but essential travel abroad will also be eased for some countries and regions in Europe, the government said on Friday. The changes will make it easier for Britons to travel abroad for summer holidays.

A full list of countries is due to be published next week, but it’s likely that Spain, Greece and France will be given a green light.

WATCH | Massive crowds ignoring physical distancing rules flock to U.K. beaches:

Local officials declare it a ‘major incident’, lambasting people for their ‘irresponsible behaviour’. 1:15

German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned  on Saturday that the pandemic is far from over, as regional outbreaks gave rise to fears of a second wave. 

Merkel said in her weekly video podcast that getting Europe’s economy back on track is her primary goal as Germany takes over the rotating European Union presidency next week, but she stressed that everyone shared a “joint responsibility” in following physical distancing and mask and hygiene rules as lockdown rules are relaxed.

German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people last week after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for COVID-19, in an attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading across the area.

WATCH | WHO gives update on COVID-19 vaccine development:

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist says AstraZeneca appears to be in the lead in the effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, but Chinese companies are making significant strides.   2:10

Germany has recorded nearly 195,000 coronavirus infections and about 9,000 deaths, with more than 177,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins.

“The risk posed by the virus is still serious,” Merkel said. “It’s easy to forget because Germany has gotten through the crisis well so far, but that doesn’t mean we are protected, that the risk has been averted; that is not the case, as is demonstrated by these regional outbreaks.”

Peru will lift coronavirus lockdown measures in most areas of the country, including the capital Lima, at the start of July while keeping its borders closed, after the daily rate of cases slowed in recent days, the government said late Friday.

Crisologo Enriquez, 85, holds steady as he receives an influenza vaccine during a vaccination campaign and COVID-19 testing operation in the Villa El Salvador neighbourhood of Lima, Peru on Friday. (Martin Mejia/The Associated Press)

A night curfew will still be in force, according to a government decree, as officials aim to keep the pandemic under control while it grapples with a battered economy and a near-collapse of its health system.

Children under the age of 14 and people older than 65 will still be required to quarantine, the government said.

Peru has recorded 272,364 coronavirus cases, with 8,939 deaths, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

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