Shanghai Disneyland reopens amid concerns over resurgence of coronavirus; Russia, US look at easing lockdown despite high number of cases

Global alarm was sounded on Monday over a potential second wave of coronavirus cases after Germany, relatively successful in slowing the outbreak, reported that infections had accelerated again

Reuters May 12, 2020 09:38:33 IST
Shanghai Disneyland reopens amid concerns over resurgence of coronavirus; Russia, US look at easing lockdown despite high number of cases

Berlin: Global alarm was sounded on Monday over a potential second wave of coronavirus cases after Germany, relatively successful in slowing the outbreak, reported that infections had accelerated again after the first tentative steps to ease a lockdown.

But in the United States, which has by far the highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of reopening states too slowly, for political advantage, albeit without providing evidence.

Shanghai Disneyland reopens amid concerns over resurgence of coronavirus Russia US look at easing lockdown despite high number of cases

Shanghai Disneyland staff wearing face masks. AP

News that the “reproduction rate” - the number of people each person with the disease goes on to infect - had surged back to 1.1 in Germany cast a shadow over the reopening of businesses ranging from Paris hair salons to Shanghai Disneyland. A rate that stays above 1 means the virus is spreading exponentially.

Fears that a second wave of infections could thwart the reopening of the global economy helped send share prices lower across the world, and pushed depressed oil prices down still further. The past month has seen investors bet strongly on a rapid economic recovery in spite of data far worse than any in living memory. That has opened a rift between soaring stock markets and the freefalling economies they are meant to reflect.

Trump, now running for re-election in November against the background of a crippled economy, is pushing US states for a rapid reopening, against the recommendations of health experts to move more cautiously to avoid a resurgence of the virus, which has killed more than 80,000 people in the United States.

Some of the hardest-hit states are led by Democratic governors, such as Pennsylvania; the Republican president has encouraged reopening in those states in defiance of their governors with tweets urging people to “liberate” them.

“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails,” he tweeted on Monday. “The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes.”

Europe reopens slowly

In Europe, Spain and France took major new steps to ease strict lockdowns, while Britain, second only to the United States in its death toll, unveiled cautious moves that critics said sent mixed messages.

In Paris, traffic flowed along the Champs Elysees as workers cleaned shopfronts to reopen for the first time since March. “Everyone’s a little bit nervous. Wow! We don’t know where we’re headed but we’re off,” said Marc Mauny, a hair stylist who opened his salon in western France at the stroke of midnight.

Mickey Mouse welcomed thinned-out crowds in Shanghai, the first Disney theme park to reopen, with a strict limit on tickets. Parades and fireworks were cancelled, and workers and guests had to wear face masks and have their temperatures screened. “I think (these measures) make tourists feel at ease,” said Kay Yu, a 29-year-old pass holder wearing a Minnie Mouse hat.

However, the city of Wuhan in central China, origin of the global outbreak, reported its first cluster of infections since its severe lockdown was lifted a month ago.

Germany is being watched worldwide as the most successful large European country in halting the spread of the virus, thanks to a massive testing programme. It is gradually reopening shops and factories, with restaurants and cafes expected to open their doors soon.

After a rise in the estimated reproduction rate or ‘R’ to 1.13 at the weekend, Monday saw new cases fall back, but the ‘R’ value at 1.07 was still above the critical threshold of 1.00. German officials say that ‘R’ becomes more volatile as the overall number of infections declines, and a brief spike is not necessarily dangerous.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was crucial that “people stick to the basic rules” on keeping their distance, wearing masks and showing consideration for others.

'It's not over until it's over'

In South Korea, which largely avoided a lockdown with a massive early testing and contact-tracing programme, authorities were rushing to contain a new outbreak traced to night clubs. “It’s not over until it’s over. We must never lower our guard,” President Moon Jae-In said on Sunday.

Britain’s government offered ministerial briefings and documents to expand on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 13-minute television address on Sunday setting out a phased path towards reopening the economy. The plan includes advice on avoiding public transport and wearing face coverings as well as a 14-day quarantine for most international arrivals, and detailed guidance for employers.

Dr Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergencies programme, urged “extreme vigilance” in the form of testing and contact tracing as countries loosened restrictions. “If the disease persists at a low level without the possibility to investigate clusters, there’s always the possibility that the virus takes off again,” he told an online news briefing.

The WHO noted that Germany, South Korea and China all had such programmes. Some of the countries and territories that are opening up their economies are not waiting for sustained falls in the spread of the virus.

Russia overtook Italy and Britain to report the world’s highest tally of cases after the United States and Spain. Nevertheless, President Vladimir Putin announced plans to ease nationwide lockdown measures from Tuesday.

India, which has locked down its 1.3 billion people since March, reported a record daily rise in cases, yet said it would begin to restart passenger railway services, with 15 special trains, from Tuesday.

In an effort to provide better information worldwide on the pandemic, Twitter said it would add labels and warning messages to some tweets with disputed or misleading information about COVID-19.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

With over 70,000 COVID-19 cases, Delhi surpasses Mumbai to become worst-hit city in India
India

With over 70,000 COVID-19 cases, Delhi surpasses Mumbai to become worst-hit city in India

With 3,788 fresh cases, Delhi's COVID-19 tally rose to over 70,000 on Wednesday, surpassing Mumbai to become the worst hit city in India

Coronavirus Updates: Confirmed cases in Maharashtra cross two lakh with 7,074 new infections reported today; toll reaches 8,671
India

Coronavirus Updates: Confirmed cases in Maharashtra cross two lakh with 7,074 new infections reported today; toll reaches 8,671

Coronavirus Updates: According to a state health department bulletin, over 1.98 lakh patients have been discharged till date and the recovery rate stands at 54.02 percent

European Union reopens borders to 14 'safe' countries from today, bars travellers from US, Brazil and Russia
World

European Union reopens borders to 14 'safe' countries from today, bars travellers from US, Brazil and Russia

Although the European Union wants to work on the basis of reciprocity, Britain, which is no longer an EU member, is an exception. It enforces 14 days of self-isolation on all non-essential travellers.