Massachusetts US Army National Guard US
A Massachusetts US Army National Guard soldier hands a gallon container of milk to a recipient in a vehicle at an event sponsored in part by Dairy Farmers of America, at Boston College High School, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Boston. Dairy farmers have a milk surplus because demand has dropped as schools and restaurants are closed during the corona virus pandemic, and some farmers have had to pour excess milk away. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Health experts have expressed fears that a potential second wave of deaths and infections could force governments to clamp down again even as countries are taking baby steps to reopen the economy.

Authorities in many countries are drawing up plans for how to cope with a resurgence in outbreaks even as they slowly work to reopen businesses and resume other activity halted to combat the pandemic. But public health officials in the US said they are worried as about half of states ease their shutdowns, with cellphone data showing that people are becoming restless and increasingly leaving home, agencies reported.

In Milan, law enforcement officials have started cracking down on residents who do not follow proper social distancing in city parks, which just reopened this week. Freed from their two-month lockdown, residents have been swarming to parks that had been closed for weeks.

More than 3.80 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 264,022 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Are other illnesses being forgotten?

With all eyes on finding a way to fight COVID-19, considering the destruction it has caused to life around the world, there have been warnings that we should not neglect other illnesses.

Health experts warn that the COVID-19 pandemic is already denying a large number of patients treatment for illnesses such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and malaria.

As billions of dollars are being spent on a vaccine to fight the coronavirus, scientists say the lockdowns could lead to as many as 1.4 million additional tuberculosis deaths, as testing and treatment programmes are disrupted.

The only current vaccine for TB is more than 100 years old and only works on very young children. And despite being the deadliest infectious disease on earth, TB research funding is still dwarfed by that given over to HIV and, now, COVID-19.

Easing restrictions

In the UK, the government has said that people should expect only a “very limited” easing of restrictions when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces new steps in the country's coronavirus response on Sunday.

Johnson is to make a statement to the country laying out plans for “phase two” of the outbreak, with some measures taking effect as soon as Monday.

But in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced easing of lockdown measures beginning from May 9. Khan said the prime concern behind the decision was to reduce the economic burden on the working classes. The prime minister also warned that he would reimpose the lockdown if people do not adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Tally rises

Russia now has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, overtaking France and Germany.

The official tally surged to 177,160, as the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus jumped by 11,231 in the past 24 hours. Moscow residents will be required to wear masks and gloves when using public transit and visiting public spaces starting Tuesday because of the coronavirus.

In Asia, Bangladesh recorded its highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single day. Authorities on Thursday said 13 people died of the virus in the last 24-hour period, taking the total number of casualties to 199. Another 706 people have tested positive during the same period, raising the total cases of infection to 12,425.

- with inputs from agencies