WLD 200713 LATIN AMERICA-1594654870277
A medical worker (L) showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, waits for an ambulance with a relative wearing a protective suit in Iquitos, in the Amazon Forest in northern Peru, upon arriving on a plane from San Isidro community. Peru surpassed 320,000 cases of the novel coronavirus on July 11, while around 12,000 COVID-19 patients remain hospitalised and more than 11,600 have died. Peru, with 33 million inhabitants, is the second country in Latin America with the most cases of COVID-19, behind Brazil, and stands fifth in the world. Image Credit: AFP

Lerida, Spain: Latin America surged past the US and Canada to become the world’s second worst-hit region for virus deaths on Monday as a Spanish court blocked a move to lock down some 200,000 people.

South Africa meanwhile reimposed a nationwide curfew to prevent a “coronavirus storm” from ravaging the continent’s hardest-hit nation.

Since the start of July, nearly 2.5 million new infections have been detected across the globe, with the number of cases doubling over the past six weeks, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

And with cases surging in Latin America, the continent on Monday had officially declared a total of 144,758 deaths, passing the 144,023 recorded in the United States and Canada.

It now stands second only to Europe, where 202,505 people have died.

Although life in parts of Europe has been returning to some semblance of normality, authorities across the continent are worriedly watching dozens of areas where cases have resurged.

Lockdown

Concerned by a spike in the town of Lerida in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region, officials on Sunday ordered nearly 200,000 residents to stay home in the first such order since the country’s lockdown ended on June 21.

But early Monday, a local court suspended the measure as “contrary to law” despite concerns over the scale of the outbreak - one of scores being monitored across badly-hit Spain, where the virus has killed more than 28,400 people.

Fears of a second wave also forced South Africa to re-impose a nationwide curfew on Sunday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa warning the country faced a “coronavirus storm” that was “far fiercer and more destructive” than any before.

With new infections topping 12,000 per day - or 500 per hour - South Africa has reimposed a night curfew as well as a ban on alcohol sales that was lifted barely six weeks ago.

The Philippines also moved to reimpose a two-week lockdown on some 250,000 people in Manila as new infections soared just six weeks after the capital emerged from one of the world’s longest lockdowns.

Spike on US bases in Japan

Meanwhile in Japan, two US Marine bases on Okinawa island have been locked down after a spike in cases with dozens infected and local officials expressing “serious doubts” about the US military’s containment efforts.

Other restrictions were imposed on seven other Marine bases on the southern Japanese island where tens of thousands of US servicemen are stationed and where nearly 100 new cases have been detected in recent days.

The move came after a weekend in which US President Donald Trump wore a face mask in public for the first time, as he visited veterans at a hospital near Washington.

The worst-hit country in the world, the US has suffered 135,171 deaths and 3,301,820 cases, with surveys showing Americans are unhappy with how Trump has handled the crisis.

Across the planet, the pandemic has infected nearly 13 million people, killed over 566,000 and triggered massive economic damage in the seven months since it was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In Latin America, Brazil accounts for almost half of the continent’s recorded fatalities.

Mexico has become the country with the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in the world, climbing to a total of 35,006 deaths and surpassing Italy.

And Sri Lanka ordered government schools across the nation to shut Monday - just a week after they reopened - following a surge in new cases.

The latest high-profile personality to test positive for COVID-19 was Bollywood superstar and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai.

Florida infections

Florida on Sunday reported a record 15,300 new coronavirus cases, the most by any state in a single day and a bleak sign of the United States’s failure to control the pandemic about six months after the first infection surfaced in the country.

15,300new coronavirus cases reported in Florida on Sunday

The number was the result of increased testing and widespread community transmission that has affected the state’s population centers as well as its rural areas. It shattered previous highs of 11,694 reported by California last week and 11,571 reported by New York on April 15.

“With Florida largely open for business, I don’t expect this surge to slow,” wrote Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

The latest spike puts Florida at the center of the country’s faltering pandemic response, highlighting the ongoing struggle of state governments to gain an edge on the virus as the White House maintains its largely hands-off approach.

The seven-day average for daily new cases nationwide, considered a more reliable indicator of the virus’s impact than single-day totals, has risen almost 165% over the past month, from 20,594 in the second week of June to 54,499 at the end of last week, according to tracking by The Washington Post. The country’s daily death toll also increased last week after months of decline.

In the last week alone, Florida reported nearly 70,000 new cases, the most of any state. An influx of coronavirus patients is straining the Sunshine State’s hospitals, and coronavirus-related deaths in the state are trending upward after leveling off in the late spring.

Amid the soaring numbers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has stuck to an aggressive reopening plan. In addition to guests returning to Disney World, state officials recently ordered schools to reopen five days a week in the new academic year, drawing objections from local leaders. The state is set to hold the Republican National Convention next month in Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, an indoor facility that seats about 15,000 people.