Pandemic still raging: Coronavirus Numbers fluctuate across North America, Europe, Latin America and Africa
Rosie Awori – Local Journalism Initiative
A little more than 120 days ago, the world came to a halt as governments across the globe began instituting shutdowns of various kinds in an effort to stem the frighteningly increasing number of people being infected by COVID-19 the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The pandemic declared by the World Health Organization on March 17, remains in effect today, even as the numbers fluctuate from region to region.
As governments move to slowly ease restrictions and reopen economies, it offers an opportunity to take a global look at how a virus which is said to have originated the city of Wuhan in western China brought the world to its knees.
Currently, there are a little over 13 million cases of people infected around the world.
The United States is currently the epicentre of the virus and has the highest number of infections at well over 3.5 million and increasing quickly.
They are followed by Brazil with almost 2 million cases. Russia has close to 700,000 cases and India’s case load is also growing quickly with close to 600,000.
But it is the escalating crisis in the USA that has been the cause of most concern this side of the border as the world looks on in awe as the strong economy in the history of man seems to be wilting under the force of the virus.
Many see the lack of cohesion of policies among states as the main reason for the runaway rates of infections.
Some states imposed shut down while others claimed to be exercising their autonomy by imposing partial or no shutdowns at all.
Some governors encouraged the use of masks while others remained indifferent.
Early in the outbreak, the initial lockdown seemed to have had some effect bur as soon as the curve began flattening, states began easing restrictions in what many see as massively irresponsible ways.
In many instances the easing of restrictions appears to have happened too soon and without proper protocols. It wasn’t long before the numbers began to spike again, and governments were forced to roll back on re-openings.
In New Mexico, the state government was forced to again banned dining inside restaurants.
Nevada was forced once again to close all the bars in counties with major outbreaks.
In Oregon, in the Pacific north-west, authorities were forced to ban private indoor gatherings of more than 10 people.
By early July, spiking numbers caused Arizona and Texas to re-imposed restrictions on indoor dining and bars.
California, the most populous state, dramatically expanded restrictions. Indoor operations of theaters, wineries, restaurants and bars were all stopped also in early.
Students across the US have become the victims of the reckless irresponsibility of some states.
Many of the nation’s largest school districts have announced classes will be virtual this fall. Students in Los Angeles, San Diego and Atlanta will not have in-person classes probably for the remainder of the year.
At the top, leadership is sparse. Since the outbreak, President Donald Trump has been in a fighting mood. He took on China blaming them for the virus. He took on the WHO blaming them for being to cosy with China. And he took on science blaming them for knowing too much.
In the meantime, much to the chagrin of Trump, scientists are saying that if everyone in America wore masks for three weeks, the country would see a significant decrease in the number of cases and deaths and the virus could be ‘under control.’
Interestingly, the Republican party moved the national convention, from North Carolina where Donald Trump will formally accept the nomination of his party to Florida to avoid social distancing and mask requirements.
Florida has been experiencing the largest one-day spike in numbers for most of the early days of July.
Meanwhile in Canada, the confirmed and presumptive cases are inching towards 110,000 with the death toll currently moving towards 9,000.
Over the past several weeks the numbers have been dwindling significantly.
There is a general consensus that the collective agreement among most provinces to shut down their economy and institute stay at home in orders contributed greatly to flatten the Canadian curve.
Many say that the closure of the border between Canada and the USA helped to keep the numbers down. It will remain closed well into August.
In Europe the struggle against the virus continues.
As of July 14, 2020, there have been 2,816,388 confirmed cases across the continent since the first confirmed cases in France on January 25.
Today France, England and Scotland are making the wearing of face coverings -masks compulsory in supermarkets and public transport and other enclosed public spaces.
In the Middle East, one of the region’s strongest economy, Israel has reported 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a daily record high for the country. Israel was widely praised for taking swift action in the initial stages of the pandemic in March it seems the reopening of the economy has thrown a spanner into the works as the number of cases has been increasing. However, the health ministry said that the government is taking every effort to avoid another countrywide lockdown.
In Iran there has been a reclosure of public places such as mosques and malls following a sudden spike in the number of cases.
Across Africa there have been 275,000 registered cases and around 7000 deaths.
Legislation around the continent has been mixed and recently infection rates have spiked in Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana, while countries such as the Gambia and Namibia have reported few new cases.
Nigeria stated it would delay the opening of mosques and churches to curb the infection rates In Tanzania schools resumed since June 29.
Restrictions on travel in the region also vary widely. In West Africa, where many of the countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed various border-crossing restrictions, government ministers in ECOWAS countries proposed a phased reopening stating July.
In East Africa, countries like Kenya will be open for international travel from August.
The spread of the virus across the continent has deteriorated the economic outlook and now sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is expected to contract by 3.2% and with loss of jobs the poverty index is also set to rise.
However, with the support from international organisations it is projected that the region will be able to boost local containment efforts and healthcare capacity and manage recovery in the coming months.