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Italy passes 30,000 deaths as fears mount over new rules

More infections in South Korea and China after restrictions eased

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No more: Antonio Guterres wants ‘tsunami of xenophobia’ to end. Picture: AFP/Getty

No more: Antonio Guterres wants ‘tsunami of xenophobia’ to end. Picture: AFP/Getty

Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres

/

No more: Antonio Guterres wants ‘tsunami of xenophobia’ to end. Picture: AFP/Getty

Italy has become the first European Union country to record more than 30,000 coronavirus deaths.

The Health Ministry registered 243 deaths yesterday, bringing the total of those who have died in the country to 30,201.

Italy was the first country in Europe with a major outbreak of Covid-19.

Authorities said many more are likely to have died with the infection at home or in nursing homes without being diagnosed.

With 1,327 more cases registered in the 24-hour period ending yesterday evening, Italy now tallies 217,185 confirmed coronavirus infections.

Some 11,000 more people have recovered from the illness than are currently positive for the infection.

Lombardy, in the north, continues to be the hardest-hit region, accounting for nearly half of the latest cases.

Health and government authorities are concerned that partial easing earlier in the week of some lockdown measures, such as reopening public parks and gardens, could see an uptick in cases if people ignore rules.

Italy's mounting death toll came as China and South Korea reported more coronavirus infections after reopening economies damaged by devastating outbreaks.

Governments around the world are opting to accept the risks of easing pandemic-fighting restrictions, that left huge numbers of people without income or safety nets.

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In the US, some governors are disregarding or creatively interpreting White House guidelines in easing their states' lockdowns and letting businesses reopen.

Seventeen states appeared to have not met one of the key benchmarks set by the White House for loosening up - a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or positive test rates.

Worries over future waves of infections reflect the difficulty of fighting a disease that leaves many of those infected with scant or no symptoms, even as thousands lose their lives to pneumonia and other virus-related illness.

South Korea's 13 new cases reported yesterday were its first increase higher than 10 in five days. A dozen were linked to someone who visited three Seoul nightclubs last weekend.

"A drop of ink in clear water spreads swiftly," vice health minister Kim Gang-lip said, urging vigilance to guard hard-won gains. "Anyone can become that drop of ink that spreads Covid-19."

After its caseload waned from hundreds a day to a handful daily in recent weeks, South Korea has relaxed social distancing guidelines, scheduled school re-openings and allowed professional sports to resume without fans.

In China, where coronavirus first emerged, authorities reported 17 new cases yesterday, including 16 that tested positive but were not showing symptoms. No new deaths have been reported for more than three weeks.

The dire stakes of the pandemic have contributed to a surge in anti-foreigner sentiment, including denying medical treatment to migrants and refugees, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said.

He appealed for an end to the "tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering".

The UN is urging governments, companies and billionaires to contribute to a $6.7bn (€6.2bn) appeal to fight coronavirus in poor countries, warning that failure to help could cause famine, riots and conflict.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 3.9 million people and killed more than 272,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

But everywhere, limited testing, differences in counting the dead and concealment by some governments mean the true scale of the pandemic is much greater.

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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