China reports 78 coronavirus cases, sparking fears of 2nd wave +World updates

Staff members line up at attention as they prepare to spray disinfectant at Wuhan Railway Station in Wuhan, China, on March 24, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

China has registered 78 new cases of coronavirus infection, most of them imported from abroad, sparking concerns about a second wave of infections in the country.

The Chinese National Health Commission said on Tuesday that of the 78 individuals, 74 had arrived from overseas, the highest since the beginning of March, when officials began reporting imported cases, and almost double the figure for Monday.

The commission said only one of the four local transmissions had taken place in Wuhan, where the new deadly virus first emerged late last year and afflicted the most people. The infection on Monday was the first new case in the city in nearly a week.

Also on Monday, seven more people died, all of them in Wuhan, the commission added.

China is believed to have brought the country’s coronavirus outbreak under control, but there is now growing anxiety about an influx of new infections coming in from nations grappling with the beginning of their own epidemics.

More than 381,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 16,500 have died of the viral disease, according to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

China has so far recorded over 81,000 infections, and 3,277 deaths.

Chinese state media warned of a second wave of infections on Tuesday.

“Inadequate quarantine measures” mean a second wave of infections is “highly likely, even inevitable,” the Global Times daily warned on its front page.

China’s Hubei relaxes restrictions

Meanwhile, travel restrictions for leaving China’s Hubei Province, where the outbreak originated, would be lifted as the epidemic eases there.

The Hubei Health Commission said it would lift curbs on outgoing travelers starting Wednesday.

Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, which has been on lockdown since January 23 will also see its travel restrictions lifted on April 8.

South Korea records 76 new cases

In South Korea, which has the second highest number of infections in Asia after China, 76 new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 9,037.

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in South Korea also increased to 120 after the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported that two more people had died of the disease.

Despite a declining trend, Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho said that authorities “cannot assess the occurrence of a pandemic or an explosion of cases through the number of confirmed patients for one day,” nor can they be optimistic about the outbreak coming to an end.

A peak of 909 new infections had been recorded in South Korea on February 29.

In Italy, ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Meanwhile, Italy, which turned into the new epicenter of the pandemic last week, reported 601 new deaths and 4,789 new infections on Monday, marking a second successive drop in daily tallies.

The top medical officer for Milan’s devastated Lombardy region appeared on television smiling for the first time in many weeks.

“We cannot declare victory just yet,” Giulio Gallera said. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Italy’s National Health Institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro was more guarded.

“These are positive numbers but I do not have the courage to firmly state that there is a downward trend,” Brusaferro told reporters.

Pallbearers pull the coffin of a deceased person in the absence of quarantined relatives for a funeral ceremony into the cemetery of Grassobbio, Lombardy, on March 23, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

The Italian government has imposed a lockdown nationwide to contain the virus, which has killed more than 6,000 people in the country in a month.

In Spain, elderly people found dead, abandoned in retirement homes

Meanwhile, soldiers deployed to help fight the new coronavirus outbreak in Spain — Europe’s second hardest-hit country — found elderly patients abandoned and sometimes dead in retirement homes.

The military has been charged with helping disinfect retirement homes in Spain, where dozens of coronavirus deaths have been recorded.

“The army, during certain visits, found some old people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds,” Defense Minister Margarita Robles said in an interview with private television channel Telecinco.

The general prosecutor announced that an investigation had been launched into the matter.

​Policemen stand outside the Palacio de Hielo (Ice Palace) shopping center, where an ice rink is turned into a temporary morgue to deal with a surge in deaths, in Madrid, Spain, on March 23, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Spain’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday that the death toll had risen to 2,696 overnight from 2,182 as the number of infections surged towards 40,000.

Amid the surge in fatalities, a spokeswoman for Madrid city hall told AFP that an ice rink at the Palacio de Hielo (Ice Palace) shopping center in the city had been turned into a temporary morgue.

Germany reports 4,764 new cases

Germany reported 4,764 new infections on Monday, bringing the tally in the country to 27,436.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases also said on Tuesday that the death toll from the outbreak had surged by 28 to 114 the day before.

A picture taken on March 23, 2020 in Delfgauw, the Netherlands, shows new quick COVID-19 tests developed by Dutch company Sensitest. The test can be used to determine whether an individual is infected with the virus within fifteen minutes. (By AFP)

Turkey imposes new restrictions to curb coronavirus

Turkey on Tuesday limited grocery store opening hours and numbers of shop customers and bus passengers, as more people contract the virus in the country.

The new restrictions come as part of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, which has killed 37 people in Turkey so far, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Koca said overnight that the number of confirmed cases had soared by 293 to 1,529 on Monday. Ankara has already shut down schools and cafes and banned mass prayers and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues.

The health minister also said on Monday that the country would hire 32,000 more medical staffers and stop exporting face masks so they can be used locally.

Jordan extends coronavirus curfew

Jordan on Monday announced that it would extend a curfew that was imposed on Saturday indefinitely and pledged it would deliver food and essential goods to houses amid the lockdown.

Minister of State for Media Amjad Adailah said arrangements had been made between the government and municipal councils to deliver enough bread, water, gas cylinders, and basic medicines across the country for the rest of the week.

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