India has passed half a million coronavirus infections as experts advise the government to prioritise reducing mortality over containing the spread of the virus. It comes as surging infections in Brazil and the United States pushed global cases toward 10 million.
India’s federal health ministry reported 17,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the country’s total infections past 500,000, according to Johns Hopkins university figures. Infections were surging in major cities including the capital, Delhi.
Experts advising the government have said the authorities should now prioritise reducing mortality over stopping the spread of Covid-19.
“Our focus should be on preventing deaths and not really getting bogged down because of the numbers. Numbers are going to increase,” said Dr Manoj Murhekar, a member of India’s main coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Epidemiology.
India has recorded more than 15,000 deaths from Covid-19.
On Friday Brazil recorded 46,860, in its third consecutive day with more approximately 40,000 new infections. The health ministry also reported 990 additional deaths taking the total to just under 56,000.
The new figures came amid warnings that the spread through smaller towns in Brazil’s interior risked a return of infections in major cities, dubbed a “boomerang effect,” as a lack of specialised medical treatment forced patients into larger urban centres.
“The boomerang of cases that will return to the (state) capitals will be a tsunami,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a leading medical neuroscientist at Duke University who is coordinating a coronavirus taskforce advising the state governments of Brazil’s northeast.
Health ministry dated showed that last week, 60% of new cases were registered in smaller cities. Only about 10% of Brazil’s municipalities have intensive care units, according to public health institute Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz).
The United States reported its highest daily number of infections, with more than 40,000 cases. In the first coronavirus taskforce briefing since April – which was not held at the White House and had no presidential appearance – showed current infection rates outstripped the peak of April and May.
Mike Pence fronted the briefing, and while he acknowledged the surge in cases in south and west of the country, he backed President Trump’s desire to get the economy up and running.
“We have made truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward,” Pence said, adding that the US had “slowed the spread” and “flattened the curve”.
But as cases approached 2.5m, Texas became the first state to reimpose the lockdown amid escalating infections. Los Angeles county had the highest number of cases confirmed across the country, with 91,557 infections, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. Chicago’s Cook country was second on 88,650, with New York’s Queens in third on 62,281.
European Union countries failed to settle on Friday on a final “safe list” of countries whose residents could travel to the bloc from July, with the United States, Brazil and Russia looked set to be excluded. Ambassadors from the 27 EU members convened from Friday afternoon to establish criteria for granting quarantine-free access from next Wednesday.
A redrawn text of 10-20 countries was put to ambassadors, but many said they needed to consult first with their governments, diplomats said. The list did not include the United States, Brazil or Russia, one diplomat said. Discussions were continuing overnight, with the EU countries expected to give informal replies by Saturday evening, people familiar with the matter said.
There is broad agreement that the bloc should only open up to those with a similar or better epidemiological situation, but there are questions about how to assess a country’s handling of the epidemic and the reliability of data.
Greece is mandating Covid-19 tests for arrivals from a range of EU countries, including France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with self-isolation until results are known. The Czech Republic has said it will not allow in tourists from Portugal, Sweden and part of Poland.
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