As Lockdowns Ease, Some Countries Report New Infection Peaks

Health experts have warned of a potential second wave of infections.
Photo/s: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

While millions of people took advantage of easing coronavirus lockdowns to enjoy the outdoors, some of the world's most populous countries reported worrisome new peaks in infections Sunday, including India, which saw its biggest single-day jump yet.

Second in population only to China, India reported more than 2,600 new infections. In Russia, new cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time. The confirmed total death toll in Britain climbed near that of Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak, even though the U.K. population is younger than Italy's and Britain had more time to prepare. The United States continues to see tens of thousands of new infections each day, with more than 1,400 additional deaths reported Saturday.

Health experts have warned of a potential second wave of infections unless testing is expanded dramatically once the lockdowns are relaxed. But pressure to reopen keeps building after the weekslong shutdown of businesses plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and wiped out millions of jobs.

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China, which reported only two new cases, saw a surge in visitors to tourist spots newly reopened ahead of a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday. Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday, and Shanghai's main tourist spots welcomed more than 1 million visitors, according to Chinese media. Many spots limited daily visitors to 30% of capacity.

On the eve of Italy's first steps toward easing restrictions, the Health Ministry reported 174 deaths in the 24-hour period ending Sunday evening — the lowest day-to-day number since the national lockdown began on March 10. Parks and public gardens were set to reopen on Monday.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to reveal how the country will lift its lockdown. The restrictions are due to last through Thursday, but with hundreds of deaths still being reported daily, it's unclear how the country can safely loosen the restrictions.

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Another potentially troubling sign emerged in Afghanistan's capital of Kabul, where a third of 500 people tested randomly were positive.

Elsewhere, Russia's latest tally of infections was nearly double the new cases reported a week ago. More than half of Russia's new cases were in Moscow, where concern is rising about whether the capital's medical facilities will be overwhelmed.

Indian air force helicopters showered flower petals on hospitals in several cities to thank doctors, nurses and police at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic. The country's confirmed cases neared 40,000 as the lockdown of its 1.3 billion people was extended two more weeks, but with some measures relaxed. The official death toll reached 1,323.

And in Mexico City, where authorities expect infections to peak next week, workers will turn the Hernandez Rodriguez Formula 1 racecourse into a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients. The paddocks and suites along the front straightaway will have eight hospital modules with 24 beds each. The pits will be used as offices for consultations. 

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Governments have reported 3.5 million infections and more than 247,000 deaths, including more than 67,000 dead in the United States, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. 

—FRANCES D'EMILIO, PABLO GORONDI and DANICA KIRKA

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