Record daily coronavirus case spikes have been reported in several countries after social distancing measures were eased, days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a stark projection that the U.S. death toll could climb to 180,000 Americans by the end of this month.
In Japan, the number of new coronavirus cases topped 1,500 for the first time since the pandemic began in February. The capital Tokyo reported an increase of 472 cases on Saturday, a new record, health officials in the country said.
The Philippines also reported its largest single-day jump on record with 4,963 new infections recorded. It brought the total number of cases reported in the country to over 98,000, making the Philippines second only to Indonesia in coronavirus deaths and cases in Asia.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday ordered his coronavirus task force to address the concerns of more than a million doctors and nurses who called for reviving strict lockdown measures after a third day of record infections.
Meanwhile, health workers said they were losing the fight against COVID-19 and warned of a collapse of the health system from soaring infections without tighter controls.
Vietnam’s health ministry also warned on Saturday up to 800,000 visitors to the tourism hot-spot Danang had left for other parts of the country since July 1, raising concerns about the disease spreading. Last week, the country detected its first locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in more than three months in the city’s east coast.
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Meanwhile, in Europe, Poland reported its highest number of new cases for a third day in a row on Saturday with 658 new cases. The country’s Health Ministry said wedding parties were partly to blame for the uptick and the prime minister this week did not rule out tightening restrictions if the situation worsens.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed a planned easing of lockdown measures in England after a rise in infections amplified fears of a second deadly surge.
Just hours after Britain imposed tougher measures on swathes of northern England, Johnson announced that casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, due to reopen on Saturday, would remain shut for at least two more weeks.
“We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard,” Johnson told an online news conference. “Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.”
The abrupt halt to the unwind was the biggest reversal to date in England’s path out of lockdown.
Cases in Germany and Russia also rose on Friday.
Despite the grim figures, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday he was “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine in the U.S. could prove effective by “late fall or early winter.”
Glimmers of hope emerged elsewhere, with Egypt reporting its lowest number of new cases since May on Friday.
Egypt reopened resorts to foreign tourists on July 1 but like the U.S. has yet to make it on to a “safe list” of countries for resumption of non-essential travel to the European Union.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Mai Nishiyama contributed.