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New York struggled to fend off a second wave of coronavirus infections with new restrictions on bars and restaurants on Friday as the pandemic raged across the U.S. and global daily deaths topped 10,000 for the first time.
Cases are on the rise across America and Europe, and governments are forced to take more drastic measures despite fears that their economies will be destroyed.
The disease has claimed nearly 1.3 million lives worldwide and infected nearly 53 million people since it first emerged in China in December.
In New York, the epicenter of the spring outbreak in the US but which has so far resisted a major resurgence, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that all establishments licensed to sell alcohol should close at 10 p.m.
The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, warned that he could follow other large US cities and switch schools to online classes as early as Monday, as the daily infection rate approached three percent after months of around one percent.
“We have to take strong steps to combat the second wave,” he told MSNBC.
In many other cities and parts of the United States and Europe, rates are even higher. More new virus cases are now being registered in areas than at the height of the first wave in March.
An AFP tally showed that the daily death toll from the disease exceeded 10,000 on Friday.
America, the country hardest hit by COVID-19, posted a new daily high of more than 150,000 cases on Thursday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. recorded 1,703 additional deaths in the 24 hours to Friday, up 0.7 percent.
“We have to turn everything off,” Michael Mina, a Harvard epidemiologist and immunologist, told reporters.
“Thanksgiving will undoubtedly lead to a massive new explosion of cases if people don’t take it seriously,” he added.
Residents and business owners in New York, where nearly 34,000 people were killed by the virus nationwide, fear another closure.
“It would be devastating economically, but the goal is to save lives and if we have to do it, we have to do it,” said Ioana Simion, 32-year-old, assistant manager of an Italian restaurant in Manhattan.
The Mayor of Chicago issued a new stay-at-home recommendation back on November 16 as hospitals that serve the poorest communities in the US’s third largest city are filled to the brim.
According to Johns Hopkins, the US has by far the worst death toll with nearly 243,000 deaths, ahead of Brazil with 164,281 and India with 128,668 deaths.
The virus is also increasing in Europe, where authorities are maintaining the detention measures reintroduced in recent weeks.
Hospitals in France are treating more patients than during the first summit, while in Italy the virus hit its less-developed south – largely spared when the virus originated in China earlier this year.
Little Lithuania claimed the undesirable title of becoming the fastest-moving nation in the pandemic, with infections rising 79 percent over the past week.
Salah tests positive
The number of cases also rose 44 percent in Brazil and 58 percent in Japan.
The latest wave of restrictions comes from policymakers worried about how to convince people who only returned to normal life a few months ago to lose certain freedoms.
An Ifop poll in France found that 60 percent of respondents admit to breaking the rules at least once by making up a false excuse to go out or to meet family and friends.
Governments are also concerned about how long curbs can last without destroying the economies that have just been brought back to life.
But the news is not all grim.
Some economists believe the world is slowly learning to work from home and that the impact of new restrictions will not be as severe this time around in many industries.
The G20 states declared a “common framework” for an expanded debt rescheduling plan for developing countries devastated by coronaviruses.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was encouraged by the rapid progress made towards a vaccine.
The US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced on Monday that their vaccine had been shown to be 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in phase 3 studies with more than 40,000 people.
President Donald Trump was due for a vaccine update from the White House later on Friday.
In sport, the Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah tested positive for COVID-19 in international operations, said the Egyptian Football Association.
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© 2020 AFP
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