Second Covid-19 wave fears rise

A wholesale food market at the centre of the outbreak has been closed and nearby housing estates put under lockdown

BEIJING • China reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in months yesterday with parts of Beijing still under lockdown, offering a second wave warning to the rest of the world as the pandemic rages in South America.

The shock resurgence in domestic infections has rattled China, where the disease emerged late last year but had largely been tamed through severe restrictions on movement that were later emulated across the globe.

It also provides a bleak insight into the difficulties the world will face in conquering Covid-19 — even as countries in Europe prepare to reopen borders at the beginning of the summer holiday season after an encouraging drop in contagion.

Of the 57 new cases logged by Chinese authorities, 36 were domestic infections in the capital, where a large wholesale food market at the centre of the outbreak has been closed and nearby housing estates put under lockdown.

“The meat sellers have had to close. This disease is really scary,” said the man surnamed Sun, adding there were fewer customers than normal.

At least 429,000 people (at press time) worldwide have died from the respiratory illness, nearly halfway through a year in which countless lives have already been upended as the pandemic ravages the global economy.

The total number of confirmed cases has doubled to 7.7 million in slightly over a month and the disease is now spreading most rapidly in Latin America, where it is threatening healthcare systems and sparking political turmoil.

Brazil now has the second-highest number of virus deaths after the US, surpassing Britain’s toll, and the Chilean health minister resigned on Saturday amid a furore over the country’s true number of fatalities.

There is still no treatment for Covid-19, but pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca plc said it has agreed to supply an alliance of European countries with up to 400 million doses of a possible vaccine. German government sources told AFP a vaccine could be developed by the end of the year.

Many European nations are further lifting painful lockdowns that have saved lives and forced caseloads down, but have also caused their economies to shrink and caused misery for millions.

Germany said it would end land border checks today, and France said it would gradually reopen its borders to non-Schengen countries from July.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis travelled to picturesque Santorini island on Saturday to open his country’s tourism season.

Venice sprang back to life Saturday, as hundreds of tourists flocked to the city for the reopening of the iconic Doge’s Palace.

The World Health Organisation said this week the pandemic is accelerating in Africa. Botswana’s capital Gaborone was locked down on Saturday after new cases were detected. — AFP