160,000 Catalans back into lockdown.
Florida records new daily death toll high.
India Covid-19 cases top 900,000 as 133m re-enter lockdown
Reuters is reporting that 160,000 people in the Spanish region of Catalonia returned to confinement today as authorities scrambled to control a fresh surge of coronavirus infections in the area, weeks after a nationwide lockdown was lifted.
A judge finally approved the regional government’s stay-at-home order for residents of the city of Lleida and six nearby towns last night after several days of legal wrangling and political tensions over the issue.
Under the new rules, people may only leave their homes for essential activities like working or buying supplies, while hotels, restaurants and bars will close except for food pick-up or delivery.
Regional authorities have also encouraged the residents of three neighbourhoods in L’Hospitalet, a Barcelona suburb that is home to around 260,000 people, to stay home, but that’s not a mandatory confinement. Another judge refused to rubber-stamp a proposed restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people there.
After more than 28,000 deaths from the pandemic, Spain’s government ended a nationwide lockdown on 21 June, considering it had dealt with the worst of the virus as the number of contagions had ground to a near halt.
But since then, more than 170 clusters have sprung up around Spain, prompting regional authorities to impose a patchwork of local restrictions, confusing locals and angering businesses.
Florida records new daily high for Covid-19 deaths
AP is reporting the bitter-sweet news that Florida surpassed its daily record for coronavirus deaths yesterday at the same moment that researchers announced that the first vaccine tested in the US had worked to boost patients’ immune systems.
Florida’s 132 additional deaths topped a state mark set just last week. The figure probably includes deaths from last weekend that had not been previously reported.
The new deaths raised the state’s seven-day average to 81 per day, more than double the figure of two weeks ago and now the second-highest in the US behind Texas.
The worrying figures were released just hours before the news about the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc.
“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, told the Associated Press.
Key final testing of the vaccine will start around 27 July, tracking 30,000 people to prove if the shots really work in preventing infection. Tuesday’s announcement focused on findings since March in 45 volunteers.
There are conflicting theories about what is driving the outbreak.
“We tried to give states guidance on how to reopen safely … If you look critically, few states actually followed that guidance,” Dr Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday in a livestream interview with the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Redfield said people in many states did not adopt social distancing and other measures because they hadn’t previously experienced an outbreak. But he went on to say, without explanation, that he didn’t believe the way those states handled reopening was necessarily behind the explosive rise in virus cases. He offered a theory that infected travellers from elsewhere in the country might have brought the virus with them around Memorial Day.
133m re-enter lockdown in India as Covid-19 cases top 900,000. Late on Tuesday, India’s coronavirus cases, the third-highest in the world, passed 900,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The current total stands at 906,752, with 23,727 known deaths. The northern Indian state of Bihar, which has a population of 125 million, has been ordered into a new 15-day lockdown to combat coronavirus. The announcement came a few hours before the southern city and IT hub Bangalore, with a population of 8 million, was due to go into a week-long lockdown.