Coronavirus: China ‘seals off’ province as worldwide cases exceed 10 million.

China has “sealed off” more than 400,000 people in a province near Beijing due to fears of a second wave of coronavirus as deaths from Covid-19 surpassed 500,000 worldwide.

Confirmed cases of the virus exceeded 10 million on Sunday as the World Health Organization reported the most infections for a single day.

The WHO reported almost 190,000 new cases for the 24-hour period through early Sunday, a week after the previous one-day high.

Cases from the Americas accounted for 62 per cent of the 189,077 new infections, followed by 13 per cent from Southeast Asia and 8.8 per cent from Europe, according to the report from the United Nations agency based in Geneva.

The US and Brazil, together, represented 49 per cent of all new infections.

Archbishop officiates a drive-in mass at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport parking in Paraguay. Photograph: Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images.

Archbishop officiates a drive-in mass at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport parking in Paraguay. Photograph: Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images.

Authorities have put almost half a million people in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, under lockdown after a fresh outbreak in China’s capital.

Anxin county, about 145km from Beijing, has “sealed off” residential areas and restricted people from leaving their homes. Only one person from each household can leave once a day with a special pass to get necessities such as food or medicine, according to the measures announced and put into immediate effect on Sunday.

All other residents, aside from those who need medical help, are to stay at home until further notice, said local authorities. “Every village, neighbourhood and building must mobilise party members, volunteers, and staff” to join the “fight” against the outbreak, the notice said.

The measures are similar to the stringent lockdowns imposed in Hubei province and other parts of the country at the height of the outbreak, when tens of millions of residents were ordered to stay home.

Officials said Anxin was adopting stricter measures out of an abundance of caution, not because the outbreak there was severe. State media reported that there had been 12 confirmed cases in Anxin county, where businesses had supplied fish to the Xinfadi market - the centre of the new cluster of cases in Beijing. Eleven of the cases were linked to the market, according to the Global Times.

More than 300 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Beijing since mid June when authorities discovered a new outbreak connected to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market in the south-east of the city. On Monday, China reported 12 new cases, seven of them in Beijing.

Restrictions in Beijing have returned, with districts and companies requiring mass testing. Health authorities said that as of Sunday, a third of Beijing’s population had been tested for the virus.

US

Meanwhile, Texas is fast becoming the new centre of the pandemic in the US.

Texas’s Covid-19 positive-test rate surged to 14.31 per cent, the highest for the second-most populous US state since the pandemic emerged, underscoring the magnitude of the growing crisis facing America’s Sunbelt.

The positivity rate on Saturday surpassed the previous record of 13.86 per cent set on April 13th, state health department figures released on Sunday showed.

The number has almost tripled since May 31st, when Texas posted a 5.44 per cent positive-test rate.

A new CBS News poll has shown almost three-quarters of Americans think the Trump administration wasn’t ready to deal with the outbreak when it started this year.

Some 72 per cent judged the administration “unprepared” against 28 per cent who said it was “prepared,” according to the June 23rd-26th survey. Almost half, 49 per cent, said the outbreak would get worse this summer. The remainder split between those who think it will get better and those who expect it to stay about the same.

The CBS poll said assessments of how President Donald Trump has handled the outbreak continue to slip, to 41 per cent now from 47 per cent in mid-April and 53 per cent in late March.

Australia

The Australian state of Victoria has recorded 75 more cases in the past 24 hours, health authorities announced, leading to increased concern the nation may be on the cusp of a second wave of cases as it removes lockdown restrictions that have crippled the economy.

The surge in cases in Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s second-most-populous state, have been centred around suburbs in the city’s northern and western fringes.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who has indicated that some of those areas may need to return to stricter lockdown measures, has blamed some clusters on large family gatherings that have broken social-distancing restrictions.

South Africa

Infections in Gauteng province, South Africa’s economic hub that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, will rise to the highest in the nation as more people return to work, the Health Ministry warned.

Cluster outbreaks are expected at mines and factories and around public transport such as taxis and buses.

“We are extremely concerned that fatigue seems to have set in and South Africans are letting down their guard at a time when the spread of infection is surging,” the ministry said in a statement Sunday.

Cumulative infections rose to 138,134 with 6,334 new cases in the latest daily report. Another 43 people died of virus-related illness, bringing the toll to 2,456.

Portugal

Portugal reported 457 new cases on Sunday, up from 323 on Saturday and the biggest daily increase since May 8th, taking the total to 41,646, the government said. Daily cases have ranged from 192 to 457 in June.

The additional cases are mostly in the greater Lisbon region, where authorities have tightened restrictions in 19 parishes and increased testing after new clusters were identified.

The total number of hospitalised patients rose by 16 to 458, while the total number of deaths rose by 3 to 1,564.

South Korea

South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki ruled out the need for a fourth extra budget this year and said that the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic may have bottomed.

South Korea’s economy can still avoid its first annual contraction in more than two decades if stimulus measures including a third supplementary budget submitted to parliament get carried out quickly enough to build on the momentum of improving exports and consumer confidence, Hong said in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday.

- Agencies

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