Second COVID wave swells across U.S. and Europe as winter looms
MILAN/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The United States, Russia and France set new daily records for coronavirus infections as a second wave swelled across parts of the Northern Hemisphere, forcing some countries to impose new curbs.
More than 42.9 million people are reported to have been infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,151,929 have died, according to a Reuters tally. The United States has the highest number of deaths and infections.
Word that a vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc produced immune responses in both elderly and young people offered some positive news as autumn turns to winter in northern countries and people socialise indoors.
But British Health Secretary Matt Hancock cautioned that the vaccine would not be widely available until next year and said “we’re not there yet”.
The seven-day average of new daily cases in the United States has reached a record high of 69,494, according to a Reuters tally, while deaths, hovering around 800 per day, are on an upward trend.
At more than 41,500, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is at a two-month high, straining health care systems in some states.
U.S. President Donald Trump, facing a tough re-election battle on Nov. 3, lashed out again at reports that the coronavirus is surging.
He repeated his unfounded claim that COVID-19 cases are rising because there is more testing, an assertion not supported by data and one that has been rejected by health experts.
“Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST. A Fake News Media Conspiracy. Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high,” Trump said in a Twitter post.
In Europe the picture was unrelentingly grim as a string of countries reported record increases, led by France, which posted more than 50,000 daily cases for the first time on Sunday, while the continent passed the threshold of 250,000 deaths.
France may even be experiencing 100,000 new infections a day, Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads a council that advises the government, told RTL radio.
Governments have been desperate to avoid the lockdowns which curbed the disease at the start of the year at the cost of shutting down their entire economies. But the steady rise in new cases has forced many in Europe to tighten curbs.
“We are facing very, very difficult months ahead,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of leaders from her Christian Democrat party, according to daily Bild.