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Alarm as several of world's biggest nations show new peaks of infection

India, Russia and US still displaying alarming trends

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Close call: Boris Johnson admits his doctors worried they were losing him during his treatment for Covid-19. Photo: REUTERS

Close call: Boris Johnson admits his doctors worried they were losing him during his treatment for Covid-19. Photo: REUTERS

Close call: Boris Johnson admits his doctors worried they were losing him during his treatment for Covid-19. Photo: REUTERS

Several of the world's most populous countries reported worrying new peaks in infections yesterday, including India, which recorded its biggest single-day jump yet.

India, second in population only to China, reported more than 2,600 new infections. And in Russia, new coronavirus cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time. The confirmed death toll in Britain climbed near that of Italy, the epicentre of Europe's outbreak, even though the UK population is younger than Italy's and Britain had more time to prepare before the pandemic hit.

The US continues to experience tens of thousands of new infections each day, with more than 1,400 new deaths reported on Saturday.

Health experts warn a second wave of infections could hit unless testing is expanded dramatically after lockdowns are eased. But pressure to reopen economies keeps building after the weeks-long shutdown of businesses worldwide plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and wiped out millions of jobs.

China, which reported only two new cases, has had a surge in visitors to newly reopened tourist spots after domestic travel restrictions were relaxed ahead of a five-day holiday that runs until tomorrow.

In Spain, many ventured outside for the first time since the country's lockdown began March 14, but social distancing rules remained in place. Masks are mandatory starting today on public transport.

"There is highly probability that we will see new outbreaks," said Spanish health expert Fernando Simón.

"That is what we must be prepared for and keep in mind over the following months."

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to reveal how the country will lift the lockdown that began on March 23.

The restrictions are due to last until Thursday, but with hundreds of deaths still being reported daily - twice as many recently as Italy or Spain - it's unclear how the country can safely loosen the restrictions.

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The 55-year-old who spent three nights in intensive care with Covid-19, revealed yesterday this doctors had been preparing for the worst.

"It was a tough old moment, I won't deny it,'' Mr Johnson said. "They had a strategy to deal with a 'death of Stalin'-type scenario'' if he succumbed to the virus."

Another potentially troubling sign emerged in Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul, where a third of the 500 people selected in random test came up positive for the virus.

In the US, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Deborah Birx expressed alarm at protests by armed and mostly maskless crowds in states such as Michigan, demanding an end to stay-at-home orders and a reboot of the economy.

"It's devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather ... they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives," she said.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted was "a significant amount of evidence" that coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan. However, he did not provide any evidence to back up his claims.

He then claimed it appeared man-made but when challenged he admitted he did not dispute US intelligence agencies' recent conclusion that it was not man-made.

India's number of confirmed cases neared 40,000 as the population of 1.3 billion marked the 40th day of a national lockdown. The official death toll reached 1,323.

Russia 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.

In all, Russia has reported 1,222 virus deaths.

The virus has infected 3.4 million people and killed more than 244,000 worldwide, including more than 66,000 dead in the US, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, which is based in Maryland.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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