Coronavirus spreads its tentacles in Pakistan with 2,304 cases, 37 deaths
Covid-19 restrictions make a comeback in worst-hit US
The coronavirus continued ravaging Pakistan which experienced its worst day since the middle of July with 2,304 new cases and 37 deaths during the past 24 hours (Thursday), showed the figures released by National Command and Operation Centre on Friday morning.
It means the number of cases reported in Pakistan jumped to 352,296 with another 979 people were diagnosed with the virus in Sindh. Punjab and Islamabad are the next most-affected regions with over 600 and 350 new cases respectively.
It is for the first time since July 17 when the daily number of cases has surpassed 2,000. But it is even more alarming that it represents an increase of 496 with compared with the previous day when 1,808 people had tested positive.
On the other hand, Punjab recorded most of these new deaths as 17 people died of the coronavirus on Thursday. It was followed by 14 in Sindh and two each in Azad Kashmir and Islamabad. Hence, the death toll in Pakistan has now reached 7,092.
As of Thursday, the region-wise distribution of the infections is given as: Sindh 153,051, Punjab 108,822 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 41,472, Islamabad 23,122, Balochistan 16,274, Azad Kashmir 5,139 and Gilgit-Baltistan 4,416.
The higher infection rate means there is a constant increase in active cases which has increased to 23,641, overburdening an already fragile healthcare system.
Out of the 1,405 hospitalised patients, 1,219 are in intensive care units due to their critical condition. Moreover, 195 of the critically-ill patients have been placed on ventilators.
Meanwhile, the number of people fully recovering from the infection has reached 321,563 with the addition of 714, which means a total of 328,655 cases have so far closed [deaths + number of people recovering from infection] in the country.
The day also saw 36,923 tests being administered in different parts of the country after which the overall number reached 4,847,105.
Covid-19 restrictions return in US
The mayor of the United States' third biggest city Chicago issued a new stay-at-home advisory on Thursday, as the country's Covid-19 outbreak shattered records in the absence of a national strategy by President Donald Trump.
Lori Lightfoot called on the Midwestern city's 2.7 million people to go out only for essential tasks or to attend work or school, to scrap Thanksgiving plans and to avoid travel.
"Every single one of us needs to step up and 'Protect Chicago' right now, or 2020 could go from bad to worse," said an explanatory note on the city's website.
It comes as the United States, already the world's hardest hit country, experiences its third and worst-by-far spike in coronavirus cases.
The seven-day-average of new daily cases currently stands above 125,000, more than 65,000 people are hospitalized, and more than 1,000 people are dying every day, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
Four states, including former global epicenter New York, have in recent days ordered restaurants and bars to close at 10:00 pm.
And in embattled North Dakota, the governor has authorized Covid-19 positive medics who don't have symptoms to keep working in virus wards.
President Trump, who has focused his energies recently on trying to overturn the election victory of his rival Joe Biden through legal challenges, rarely talks about the pandemic anymore, but has always opposed sweeping lockdowns.
Trump has instead focused on medical innovations as a means to end the crisis -- and the world received a dose of much-needed hope this week when US drug giant Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech said their vaccine was 90 percent effective.
Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci welcomed the news Thursday, saying that the "cavalry" was on its way, but warned people not to let mask-wearing, distancing and other measures slip.
Speaking to a London think-tank by video-link, the world-leading expert on infectious diseases added another vaccine is "literally on the threshold of being announced," widely interpreted to mean one developed by US biotech firm Moderna.
But the vaccines won't arrive in time to prevent tens of thousands more deaths.
An AFP tally of official sources found Thursday that the daily number of global deaths had gone over the symbolic level of 10,000 in the past 24 hours for the first time since the start of the pandemic, standing at 10,010.
- 'People just don't care -
Global markets slid on fears of the virus surge that threatens economic recovery, eroding earlier gains led by vaccine hopes.
France reported Thursday that the number of people in hospital for Covid-19 was now higher than during previous peaks in April.
Elsewhere in Europe, Slovenia's government announced that public transport was being suspended and a ban on nearly all public meetings and gatherings for the next fortnight.
And Portugal's prime minister said that a nighttime curfew that was already in place in parts of the country would now cover some 70 percent of the population as the number of Covid patients being treated in hospital was more than double the peak seen in the spring.
Serbia's Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar meanwhile cautioned that there were no more hospital beds available for virus patients in the capital Belgrade.
But for all the dire warnings, there was growing evidence that people were ignoring restrictions imposed by governments and minimizing the risk of infection.
In France, a survey revealed that more than half of the population had broken regulations governing a current partial lockdown.
"The second wave is extremely strong," Prime Minister Jean Castex warned in a virtual news conference. "One in four deaths is now due to Covid."
In India, crowds packed New Delhi markets ahead of the Diwali festival of lights, the country's biggest holiday, saying they were fed up with being cooped up.
India has the world's second-highest caseload behind the United States, and there are fears that a Diwali surge could hit major cities across the country of 1.3 billion.
"People just don't care," said Tanisha, a 19-year-old student. "People want to come out."
Compounding the weariness, a report by the non-profit First Draft that fights misinformation delivered worrying news on Thursday, saying conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines played an "outsized role" on social media and could threaten their efficacy.
With inputs from AFP.