Coronavirus Global Roundup April 16: Nearly a million cases in Europe, China and Singapore report an increase in local cases
While major hotspots such as Italy and Spain have seen a decline in death rate, cases have doubled in the last ten days in western Europe.
Nearly 2.1 million people have now been infected with COVID-19 , and over 135,000 have died. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy will contract 3% this year, the greatest slump since the Great Depression.
While major hotspots such as Italy and Spain have seen a decline in death rate, cases have doubled in the last ten days in western Europe, touching nearly a million.
Hungary will extend its national lockdown for a week starting Saturday - the country has so far reported over 1,650 cases. Iran recorded fewer than 100 deaths for the third day in a row, as well. Russia reported 3,448 new coronavirus cases today, a record single-day rise in cases.
The situation in China was reportedly getting better with more imported cases and local cases on a decline. But today, Beijing reported new local COVID-19 cases for the first time in three weeks.
Harvard study suggests that intermittent lockdowns may be required until 2022
Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health released a study predicting that without a vaccine, widespread herd immunity or an increase in the healthcare capacity, the world may be resigned to intermittent physical distancing until 2022 to reduce the effects of COVID-19 .
One of the models from the study suggests that a single lockdown won’t be sufficient to douse the pandemic, and secondary peaks may be even more severe. Marc Lipsitch, one of the co-authors, said that as long as there are enough infected and susceptible people, the virus will sustain.
There are many variables that are difficult to account for, however, we don't know with certainty what the seasonality of COVID-19 is, and we also don’t know if people become immune to the disease after recovering and for how long. With respiratory infections, complete immunity is unlikely.
Serological tests, which shed light on immunity levels, may give a better idea of the future of the pandemic.
AP: China didn’t warn the public of the pandemic for six crucial days
According to internal documents sourced by the Associated Press, Chinese authorities neglected to tell the public about the impending pandemic after alarming reports had emerged by Jan 14th. Officials waited six days, until the 20th of Jan, to warn the public to take the new infection seriously.
During this interval, millions had travelled around the country for the Lunar New Year and the city of Wuhan had hosted a banquet attended by thousands of people. According to a study, if the initial reaction was strong and decisive, two-thirds of cases could have been prevented and the pandemic may have been better contained.
Doctors and nurses were already aware that something was amiss in December, and by early January hospitals were already receiving more patients with pneumonia symptoms than average.
However, Chinese authorities accused a group of eight doctors of rumour-mongering on Jan 2 and stifled their attempts to raise the alarm. It was only on the 13th of January, when a case was picked up in Thailand, that the government officials began mobilizing a response.
Singapore sees a record increase in cases
Singapore saw a record increase in cases on Wednesday, with 447 incidences recorded. Singapore has been lauded for its response to COVID-19 so far. They have proactively tested and isolated positive cases and tried to prevent further transmission by implementing a lockdown.
Following a dip in cases, mid to late March saw a slight increase, as travellers brought in the disease from abroad. However, no new imported cases have been reported for over a week. Of the 447 cases from yesterday, 404 have been reported from dormitories where migrant labourers live. In fact, half of Singapore’s 3,700 cases are from these dormitories where people live in cramped quarters. According to the Straits Times, testing has been stepped up in the dormitories and the government has vowed to improve living conditions there.
For more information, read our article on What is Herd Immunity and can it help stop COVID-19 ?
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