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Reins pulled in as cases top 40m globally

China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-20 09:33
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An artist works on a mural on Sunday in Manchester, which is at risk of moving to the highest level of coronavirus restrictions in England. PHIL NOBLE/REUTERS

Nations tighten curbs to handle virus surge, with northern winter nearing

ROME-The number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 40 million worldwide as the approach of winter in the northern hemisphere fuels a resurgence in the virus' spread and spurs more countries to tighten prevention measures.

Globally, as of Monday afternoon, 40,112,870 people have been infected with the coronavirus, with over 1 million having died from COVID-19, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the United States.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gave mayors the power to shut public squares from 9 pm to halt gatherings as he unveiled a further package of measures on Sunday to try to halt a sharp rise in cases.

As daily cases in Italy hit a record of 11,705 on Sunday, Conte said the situation had become critical but his government was determined to avoid a repeat of the lockdown imposed at the start of the crisis in March.

"The curve of contagion is worrisome, the numbers are serious, and there is a need to intervene urgently," he said.

The government will increase the use of so-called smart-working practices in the public administration and is asking high schools to adopt staggered timetables to avoid congestion on public transport.

Restaurants and places serving food will be allowed to remain open until midnight but will be able to serve only seated customers after 6 pm. The government would also consider closing gyms and swimming pools after further checks on security protocols this week.

In Britain, about 6 million people face tougher COVID-19 lockdowns in coming days, as Wales and Manchester mull additional restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates.

The United Kingdom recorded 16,982 new daily cases of COVID-19 in the space of 24 hours, according to government data issued on Sunday.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said a lockdown could be imposed within days. "We do need to conclude this," Jenrick said of talks with local leaders, adding that the basis for an agreement was there.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to put the Manchester area into "Tier 3"-the highest level of restrictions forcing pubs and bars to close and banning different households from mixing indoors-against the will of local leaders if an agreement is not possible.

Jenrick said he was hopeful a deal could be struck with Manchester leaders on Monday, with newspapers reporting that tens of millions of pounds were on offer to help businesses cope with the lockdown measures.

Additional measures

The Welsh government is also due on Monday to announce a possible "fire break" set of additional measures to control the virus.

Jenrick said a short, nationwide full lockdown was not a "sensible "way forward and was not being considered at present.

In Poland, a temporary hospital was set to be opened at the national stadium in Warsaw as it faces a spike in coronavirus cases and a health system overload, the government said on Monday.

Poland has reported new records in daily cases and deaths in the past weeks, with doctors logging shortages of personnel, hospital beds and equipment.

"On Saturday, the prime minister ordered the preparation of the first temporary hospital, which will be located at the national stadium," said Michal Dworczyk, the prime minister's chief of staff, who is responsible for the project.

The hospital, set up in the stadium's conference rooms, will have beds for 500 COVID-19 patients, with the option to expand to 1,000 beds. The first beds will likely be available this week.

In Africa, South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and his wife tested positive for COVID-19, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

The health minister was tested on Saturday after showing mild symptoms, and has been in quarantine at home.

According to the latest government data on Monday, South Africa had registered 703,793 COVID-19 cases and 18,471 deaths.

Xinhua - Agencies

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