US sets another virus record with 77,638 new cases

By: AFP      Published: 11:20 AM, 18 Jul, 2020
US sets another virus record with 77,638 new cases

The United States marked a record number of coronavirus cases Friday for the third consecutive day, notching 77,638 new infections in 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The country also recorded 927 deaths in one day, according to the count by the Baltimore-based university at 8:30 pm (00:30 GMT Saturday). 

The country, the hardest-hit by the coronavirus in the world in absolute terms, has suffered 139,128 total fatalities out of 3.64 million confirmed cases.

Experts believe the United States never emerged from its first wave of infections, and cases have been surging again in recent weeks, particularly across the south and west in states that pushed to lift lockdown restrictions early.

In California, Los Angeles County reported 4,592 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, a single-day record.

"Without aggressive action on the part of every person, we will not get back to slowing the spread," Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director, said in a statement.

When the coronavirus outbreak first escalated in the United States earlier this year, New York was forced to use refrigerated trucks to handle the overwhelming body count.

Now, as the Sun Belt copes with a stark uptick in virus cases and deaths, Texas and Arizona are doing the same thing to ease the burden on their near-capacity morgues.

Earlier this week, Texas topped its daily virus death toll record with 129 fatalities. So far, more than 3,700 people in the state have lost their lives to COVID-19.

In cities like San Antonio and Corpus Christi, authorities monitoring the spiraling caseload are ordering freezer trucks and trailers as they brace for the worst.

"There's nowhere to put them. It sounds terrible but it's true," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said this week of the victims. 

"We do have refrigerated trucks on standby in the area, should they be needed."

Ken Davis, the chief medical officer for the Christus Santa Rosa health system operating in that area, said: "In the hospital, there are only so many places to put the bodies."

"We're out of space. Our funeral homes are out of space," he added.

In the southwestern state of Arizona, more than 2,500 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus have been reported. 

In Maricopa County, home to the state's capital and biggest city Phoenix, authorities ordered 14 refrigerated trucks on Thursday, with a capacity to hold up to 294 bodies.

"We are losing too many Arizonans," Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego recently told local ABC affiliate KNXV.

The United States is by far the nation hardest hit by the global pandemic. More than 138,000 people have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Argentina relaxes lockdown in Buenos Aires again

Argentina's government announced on Friday it was relaxing coronavirus containment measures in the capital Buenos Aires despite continued high infection rates.

From Monday, non-essential businesses, industry and certain professional activities can restart, Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta and the provincial governor Axel Kicillof said in a news conference.

Citizens will also be allowed to go outside for sport and to visit places of worship.

"We're a very long way from having overcome this situation. The risk is still latent," said President Alberto Fernandez.

"We're going to try to come back to normal life in this new world that requires a different type of attention."

Argentina has recorded almost 115,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,100 deaths among its 44 million population.

More than 90 percent of cases have been in the greater Buenos Aires region, home to around a third of the population.

Containment measures have been relaxed once before but were reimposed on July 1 to combat a surge in cases.

Africa vaccination 'far outweighs' virus child death risk: study

Continuing routine immunisations against diseases such as measles and yellow fever for children in Africa would far outweigh the risk of infant deaths from COVID-19, health experts said Friday.

As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts medical supplies and health services worldwide, millions of children are at heightened risk of contracting diseases that can be easily prevented by shots costing pennies.

To assess the extent of the risk to child health, researchers based in Britain and Switzerland created a mathematical model that simulated the spread of COVID-19 for all 54 countries in Africa. 

They assumed based on similar countries' experience with the virus that around 60 percent of each population would end up contracting COVID-19 and that it would disrupt health services for six months on average. 

According to the model, continuing with routine immunisations could lead to 8,300 additional child deaths across Africa from COVID-19. 

However, disrupting vaccinations to avoid COVID-19 deaths could see more than 700,000 children die throughout the continent before they reach the age of five. 

"The benefits of routine childhood immunisation in Africa are likely to far outweigh the risk of additional COVID-19 transmission that might ensue, and these programmes should be prioritised as far as logistically possible," said Kaja Abbas, joint lead study author from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The research, published in the Lancet medical journal, focused on the impact of vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, flu, measles, rubella and yellow fever among others.

The World Health Organization and the United Nation's children's fund warned Wednesday that the first four months of 2020 saw a "substantial drop" in the three-dose jab that protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. 

At least 30 countries have cancelled or might cancel measles vaccination programmes, the UN said. 

Even before the pandemic, 14 million children were missing out on life-saving vaccines every year.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.