Officials concerned about a virus resurgence have quarantined 8,000 people and reintroduced lockdown measures in northeastern China, even as other parts of the country further relax restrictions.
Residents of Jilin, the second-largest city in Jilin Province, have been mostly barred from leaving the city, state news media reported, after a cluster of infections was reported there and in Shulan, another city under its administration. Shenyang, capital of the neighboring province of Liaoning, said on Saturday that anyone who had traveled there from the city of Jilin since April 22 would be quarantined in a hospital for three weeks.
Jilin has traced nearly 700 contacts of coronavirus patients for testing and quarantine, while officials in Liaoning Province have found more than 1,000 contacts and about 6,500 people at high risk for infection.
China reported five new confirmed infections on Saturday, three of them locally transmitted in Jilin Province and two from overseas. The country has reported more than 89,000 total cases and 4,634 deaths.
Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert and adviser to the Chinese government, said in an interview with CNN on Saturday that although China had a relatively low number of infections it still faced a “big challenge” because most of the population had not been exposed to the coronavirus and was still susceptible to infection. “It’s not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment,” he said.
Elsewhere in China, the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Sunday that it was no longer necessary to wear masks outdoors. The capital, which has reported no new infections for 30 days, is preparing for the annual session of the National People’s Congress, a major gathering that had been postponed for more than two months.
New York Times
Europe’s leaders say vaccine won’t come soon enough
SOAVE, Italy — In separate, stark warnings, two major European leaders have bluntly told their citizens that the world needs to adapt to living with the coronavirus and cannot wait to be saved by the development of a vaccine.
The comments by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came as nations around the world and US states are both struggling with restarting economies blindsided by the pandemic. With 36 million newly unemployed in the United States alone, economic pressures are building even as authorities acknowledge that reopening risks new waves of infections and deaths.
Pushed hard by Italy’s regional leaders and weeks in advance of an earlier timetable, Conte is allowing restaurants, bars, and beach facilities to open Monday, the same day that church services can resume and shops reopen.
’’We are facing a calculated risk, in the awareness . . . that the epidemiological curve could go back up,’’ Conte said late Saturday. “We are confronting this risk, and we need to accept it, otherwise we would never be able to relaunch.”
Conte added that Italy could ‘‘not afford” to wait until a vaccine was developed. Health experts say the world could be months, if not years, away from having a vaccine available to everyone despite the scientific gold rush now on to create such a vaccine.
“We would find ourselves with our social and productive fabric heavily damaged,” Conte said.
Italy’s economy is forecast to contract 9 percent this year due to the coronavirus amid a long, strict lockdown.
For his part, Britain’s Johnson, who was hospitalized last month with a serious bout of COVID-19, speculated Sunday that a vaccine may not be developed at all, despite the huge global effort to produce one.
“I said we would throw everything we could at finding a vaccine,” Johnson wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition.”
Johnson said Britain was taking “baby steps” toward reopening, “trying to do something that has never had to be done before — moving the country out of a full lockdown.”
“Despite these efforts, we have to acknowledge we may need to live with this virus for some time to come,” Johnson wrote.
The Conservative leader said the UK needs to find new ways of controlling the virus, including more testing for people who have symptoms and tracing the contacts of infected people. One minister said Sunday that 17,200 people had been recruited to be contact tracers.
Coronavirus has infected more than 4.6 million people and killed more than 312,000 worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts say undercounts the true toll of the pandemic. The United States has reported more than 88,000 dead in the pandemic and Europe has seen at least 160,000 deaths.
India extends lockdown by two weeks
NEW DELHI — India on Sunday extended its nearly 2-month-old lockdown by two weeks after reporting nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases, but said restrictions could be eased in low-risk areas to boost economic activity.
After surpassing China on Saturday, India now has the most confirmed virus cases in Asia, with nearly 91,000.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and some other key regions are still battling to control the rising curve of coronavirus infections. But the Home Ministry said low-risk areas will be allowed to restore economic activity.
All domestic and international passenger flights will remain prohibited. Metro services, schools, colleges, hotels, and restaurants will also remain shuttered nationwide, the Home Ministry said.
The Health Ministry on Sunday reported a record jump of nearly 5,000 cases in the past 24 hours, raising the number of confirmed cases in India to 90,927, including 2,872 deaths.
India had fewer than 500 confirmed cases and nine deaths when the lockdown was first imposed on March 25.
New Zealand’s prime minister turned away from restaurant
In New Zealand, nobody is exempt from the strict measures the country has taken to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Not even the country’s revered prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.
Ardern and her fiancé were initially turned away from a cafe in Wellington on Saturday, even though New Zealanders are allowed once again to eat in restaurants. But there were no seats available at the cafe, Olive.
A Twitter user named Joey posted the news about the couple’s attempted visit on social media, writing: “Omg Jacinda Ardern just tried to come into Olive and was rejected cause it’s full.” Other social media users rejoiced at how the situation played out. “Egalitarian New Zealand is real and it’s wonderful,” Jaq Tweedi said.
Ardern’s fiancé, Clarke Gayford, with whom she shares a daughter, replied in a tweet on Saturday to the post saying: “I have to take responsibility for this, I didn’t get organized and book anywhere.” He added that they were chased down by the cafe “when a spot freed up.”
The New Zealand Herald reported that Olive’s owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that the staff had not felt pressured when Ardern showed up and that they had been following “every one of the rules,” which include keeping a distance of 1 meter — just over 3 feet — between diners in restaurants.
New Zealand’s leader has been lauded for her deft handling of the pandemic, locking down the country early in the outbreak and banning international travel. There have been 21 coronavirus-related deaths in New Zealand, and the country moved to a Level 2 alert on Wednesday — meaning schools are allowed to reopen and residents can once again visit stores and restaurants, and travel within regions.
New York Times