India has recorded its highest daily rise in new infections and the death toll in Latin America has passed 100,000 as countries from Croatia to Iran and Portugal to Bulgaria stepped up efforts to contain ongoing and fresh outbreaks of Covid-19.
Soldiers were called in to manage healthcare centres in Delhi after nearly 4,000 people in the Indian capital tested positive in 24 hours. Authorities have promised to make 20,000 extra beds available in temporary facilities run by army medics.
The country reported a record 15,968 new daily infections on Wednesday, taking its official total to more than 456,000, the fourth highest in the world after the US, Brazil and Russia. The true extent of the outbreak is thought to be much bigger.
India’s health ministry also recorded a record 24-hour increase of 465 deaths, taking its total to 14,476. Delhi has emerged as a major cause of concern for the government because of poor contact tracing and a lack of hospital beds.
The number of Covid-19 infections in Latin America reached 2.2m after doubling in two months. The region’s combined death toll passed 100,000, including 52,000 in its most populous country, Brazil, and 23,400 in Mexico.
Ukraine said it was opening more hospitals to coronavirus cases because those initially allocated no longer had enough beds to cope with a surge in infections. A new high of 940 was recorded on Wednesday, bringing the total to 39,014. The number of deaths stands at 1,051. Officials have criticised some citizens for not sticking closely enough to physical distancing guidelines and other precautions to prevent the virus spreading, which they say has led to a surge in cases.
Elsewhere, countries that have already experienced a first wave of infections and begun easing their restrictions have been confronted with local rises, some worrying enough to warrant the urgent reimposition of containment measures.
Portugal, hailed for its swift and effective early lockdown, tightened restrictions in and around Lisbon after recording more than 9,200 new cases from 21 May to 21 June, a rate per 100,000 inhabitants exceeded in Europe only by Sweden.
The latest outbreaks are contained in 15 neighbourhoods whose 2.8 million inhabitants are no longer allowed to gather in groups of more than 10. Shops have to close at 8pm and restaurants are no longer allowed to serve alcohol after that hour.
Officials have criticised illegal parties flouting the ban on gatherings of more than 20. A recent beach party near Lisbon attracted 1,000 revellers, and a birthday party for 100 people in the Algarve resulted in 76 new cases.
Spain is monitoring 12 new outbreaks. One of the most serious is in the north-eastern region of Aragon where more than 70 new cases have prompted authorities to reimpose limits on public gatherings for the area’s 68,000 residents.
Belgium’s prime minister, Sophie
Wilmès, also condemned a rash of recent street parties held in defiance of restrictions. “Directly or indirectly, these people risked putting months of joint effort at risk,” she said. “Basic health protection rules were not followed.”
She said new surges in neighbouring countries, including Germany, could herald a second wave of infections. Authorities in the western German district of Gütersloh placed 360,000 people back in lockdown this week after more than 1,700 employees at a local meat processing plant tested positive.
Mainland France is so far managing its exit from lockdown smoothly, but doctors are being dispatched to its overseas territory of French Guiana, which shares a long border with Brazil, in response to a sudden surge in infections there.
Annick Girardin, France’s minister for overseas territories, said she would discuss the possibility of reimposing confinement measures for the territory’s 300,000 people and cancelling upcoming elections to stem the spread.
Bulgaria’s health minister, Kiril Ananiev, said the country would extend its state of emergency until 15 July after a sudden jump of 660 new cases this week. It had begun to relax its restrictions earlier this month.
Ananiev said face masks would again be mandatory in all indoor public spaces, including trains and buses. “We have an increase of the intensity of the epidemic and an increase of coronavirus spread,” he told a government meeting.
Croatia, which has limited its infections to 2,300 and its death toll to just over 100, said it would reinstate mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers from Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia because of an increase of infections in the Balkans and a consequent rise in new cases on its territory.
Iran called for face masks to be made compulsory as the country reported its highest daily death toll in more than two-and-a-half months on Wednesday. The 133 deaths in 24 hours were the highest since 6 April and brought its overall toll to 9,996.
After closing schools, cancelling public events and banning movement between its 31 provinces, Iran succeeded in halting the rise in new infections until early May. But since a gradual reopening of the economy in April, the number of cases has begun to rise again.
According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the coronavirus has now infected more than 9,295,000 people worldwide and killed more than 478,000. The International Monetary Fund said its expected the global economy to take a $12tn (£9.6tn) hit from the pandemic. – The Guardian