America’s top infectious diseases official has warned that ending lockdowns too quickly could trigger uncontrollable new coronavirus outbreaks, as the global death toll closes in on 300,000.
Concerns were compounded Tuesday by Fauci’s warning to Congress that a run of 14 days with drop in cases was a vital first step before lifting lockdowns.
“If a community or a state or region doesn’t go by those guidelines and reopens… the consequences could be really serious,” he said.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control.”
Fauci said the true number killed by the epidemic in the US is likely higher than the official toll of over 82,000 — the world’s highest.
On Tuesday the US registered 1,894 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, a steep rise after daily tolls fell below 1,000 on Sunday and Monday.
Republican allies in the Senate on Tuesday proposed legislation that would empower the president to impose sanctions on Beijing if it does not give a “full accounting” for the outbreak.
“Their outright deception of the origin and spread of the virus cost the world valuable time and lives as it began to spread.”
In the House of Representatives meanwhile, Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion virus response package, the largest yet, to fund efforts to fight the pandemic and provide emergency payments to millions of American households.
– ‘Necessary measure’ –
The lifting of lockdowns gathered pace across Europe on Tuesday, with France beginning to reopen primary schools and nurseries.
Teachers wore face masks and desks were separated as children filed back into classrooms.
Russia began easing lockdown rules even as infections surged past 232,000 — now the second most cases in the world after the US.
The nation hit the landmark on Tuesday after a week of reporting more than 10,000 daily infections.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has also tested positive for the virus.
“It’s a necessary measure,” said 25-year-old Tatiana Khan, speaking on a half-empty bus.
“If everyone had worn masks from the start, observed the precautions, I think we wouldn’t have had such a spread of the epidemic.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $270 billion economic stimulus as the Asian giant’s economy lumbers back to life after a prolonged shutdown.
Its giant railway network also restarted, despite a recent surge in infections, with 3,600 recorded on Monday.
The country of 1.3 billion imposed a strict lockdown in late March, which Modi’s government has credited with keeping cases to a modest 70,000, with around 2,300 deaths.
Fears of a second wave of cases remain across much of the Asian continent, with Chinese state media reporting that the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, plans to conduct virus tests on the entire 11 million population.
The proposal comes after Wuhan reported the first cluster of new infections since the city reopened on April 8 after a 76-day lockdown.
But there were stories of hope amid the gloom. A 113-year-old woman, believed to be the oldest person living in Spain, was reported to have beaten the coronavirus at a retirement home where several other residents died from the disease.
Her daughter said her mother was “in shape, wanting to talk, to explain, to reflect — she has become herself again”.
© 2020 AFP