The World Health Organization has urged countries grappling with coronavirus to step up control measures, saying it is still possible to rein it in, as some nations clamp fresh restrictions on citizens.
With case numbers worldwide more than doubling in the past six weeks, Uzbekistan on Friday returned to lockdown and Hong Kong said schools would close from Monday after the city recorded “exponential growth” in locally transmitted infections.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries to adopt an aggressive approach, highlighting Italy, Spain, South Korea and India’s biggest slum to show it was possible to stop the spread, no matter how bad the outbreak.
The health agency’s comments came as US president Donald Trump was forced to cancel an election rally in New Hampshire, citing an approaching storm. Trump has pushed to hold large gatherings against health advice as epidemiologists warn of the dangers posed by the virus moving through the air in crowded and confined spaces.
On a visit to Florida on Friday, Trump hit out at Beijing over the pandemic.
“(The) relationship with China has been severely damaged. They could have stopped the plague … They didn’t stop it,” he told reporters.
The virus has killed at least 556,140 people worldwide since it emerged in China last December. The US, the country worst hit by the illness, reported almost 64,000 new cases Friday and the death toll now stands at just under 134,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil, the second-hardest hit, surpassed 70,000 deaths and reported 45,000 new infections, the health ministry said.
In Uzbekistan, citizens were from Friday facing lockdown restrictions again that were originally imposed in March but lifted gradually over the past two months.
The central Asian country’s return to confinement followed a decision by Australia to lock down its second-biggest city Melbourne from Thursday.