Coronavirus Global Roundup April 21st: 2.5 million cases, WHO warns of tough times, Singapore extends lockdown after cases rise
Recent studies have shown that far fewer people than expected have developed antibodies to the disease - just around 2% to 3%.
The number of COVID-19 cases globally is now over 2.5 million, according to Worldometer's data. Over 171,000 people have lost their lives, and the death toll in France crossed 20,000. For the first time in history, oil prices fell below $0 a barrel as demand has plummeted given the pandemic.
Here is a roundup of some major developments from across the world.
‘The worst is ahead of us’ says the director-general of WHO
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a briefing that the worst is not over when it comes to COVID-19 . Previous reports from WHO has warned of spikes in vulnerable communities such as slums and refugee housing clusters, as well as an increase in cases across the African continent.
He added that removing lockdown restrictions does not imply that the fight is over. Dr Maria Kherkhove, technical lead of the Health Emergencies program, said that recent studies have shown that far fewer people than expected have developed antibodies to the disease - just around 2% to 3%. While these studies need to be further analyzed, it does not look like there is sufficient evidence for herd immunity yet.
Singapore sees jump in cases to become the most affected country in southeast Asia
Singapore, which had just around 200 cases by mid-March, has seen cases suddenly climb to more than 8,000, with over 1,000 new cases confirmed just yesterday.
The majority of cases have been reported in foreign labourers who live in dormitories - some members from the Indian community belong to this population as well. Over 200,000 labourers live in 43 registered dormitories, and over half have viral clusters. The living conditions in the dormitories are poor with over 20 people in a room and common lavatories. Efforts are being made to step up testing and isolation of infected people - some are being moved out to quarantine facilities to quell the spread. In response to this rise in cases, Singapore has extended the current lockdown by four more weeks - it will now continue until 1 June.
Donald Trump: Immigration to the US suspended in light of the crisis
The US President tweeted this morning that to curb the rise in cases across the country, and to protect local jobs, he would sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the country. More than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs, and over 42,000 have died. It is not understood which programs fall under the ambit of this declaration, nor is it known yet if the motion will pass.
The USA had stopped issuing visas last month and has signed an agreement with Canada and Mexico to restrict non-essential cross-border traffic until mid-May at least.
Indonesia faces tough choices as Ramadan approaches
Indonesia reported 375 new cases and 26 deaths on Tuesday. There is a growing fear of a rise in cases soon; millions were supposed to travel to their families after Ramadan. The government has banned the exodus of people across the country, but it remains to be seen how it will be implemented. The country has seen job losses in the millions after restrictions were introduced, following which labour migrants had travelled across the country to return to their hometowns. Like much of the world, the coming weeks will be decisive for the country.
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The daily positivity rate was recorded at 2.31 percent. It has been less than 3 percent for 34 consecutive days, the health ministry said, adding the weekly positivity rate was recorded at 2.24 percent