Doctors transport a patient to the King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York, Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (Source: AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is becoming a new hot spot for infections. And new doubts have been raised as to whether Japan would be able to host the already postponed Summer Olympics next year without the development of a vaccine.
In Europe and elsewhere, the key question of when to reopen schools arose as nations sought to ease closings and restart their struggling economies.
Although coronavirus appears to affect children much less severely than adults, many officials, teachers and parents are concerned about the health risks posed by school openings. Some point to the difficulties in ensuring that children stick to social distance and frequent hand washing, and the teachers themselves fear risks to their own health.
But many parents would find it difficult to return to work without schools open, hampering efforts to restart the economy.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron wants schools to reopen on May 11, but teachers, parents and even some mayors are sounding the alarm. The government says it will be up to parents to decide whether to send the children to class, details to be released on Tuesday by the Prime Minister.
Joel Wilmotte is one of a growing number of French mayors refusing to reopen their schools, at least for now.
“I am not against the reopening of schools,” he said in a video on the Facebook page of his town north of Hautmont. But he listed seven reasons why he is not ready to do it.
Among them: teachers do not know how to make sure that each child respects protective gestures and a survey suggests that most French parents are opposed to the reopening of schools. The cleaning staff is afraid and is insufficiently equipped to carry out constant disinfection.
Wilmotte said he kept the six schools in his town closed “until further notice”.
Greece, which has so far managed to keep its coronavirus death rate at 136 people, also released more details on the lockup on Tuesday, but the school issue has remained a delicate matter.
Schools will be reopened “gradually, under conditions” and subject to constant review, said spokesman for the Ministry of Health in charge of viruses, specialist in infectious diseases, Sotiris Tsiodras. The team of experts of which he is a member did not recommend a date.
Scientists agree that children are less exposed to the virus and seem to transmit it less than adults, said Tsiodras, father of seven. “It is not an experience where we want something bad to happen to our children. It is a scientific proposition. We propose, the state will decide. “
In the United States, with the highest death toll in the world, with more than 56,000 dead, President Donald Trump said states should “seriously consider” reopening their public schools before the end of the year university, although dozens of people have already said it wouldn’t be safe for students to come back until summer or fall.
“Some of you might start thinking about school openings, because a lot of people want to have school openings. This is not a big topic, young children have been very successful in this disaster that we have all gone through, “said Trump. .
Trump also admitted that the number of deaths from the virus could reach 70,000 in the United States, after citing 60,000 several times this month.
The number of confirmed infections in the United States has reached nearly one million and the number of confirmed deaths has exceeded 211,000, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. The true toll of the pandemic is likely to be much higher due to the limited number of tests, missed minor cases, flaws in the death count and governments that may be trying to hide the extent of their epidemics.
Italy, Spain, France and Britain are responsible for more than 21,000 virus-related deaths each.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has stressed that COVID-19 is just a “little flu” and there is no need to anticipate the type of restrictions that have slowed the spread of the infection in Europe and the United States, but disrupted their economies.
Brazil, the most populous country in Latin America with 211 million people, has reported 4,600 deaths and 67,000 confirmed infections. But the real numbers would be much higher given the lack of tests and the many people who did not seek hospital care.
Officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse or are too overwhelmed to accommodate more patients. An increasing number of Brazilian victims also appear to be dying in their homes.
“We have all the conditions here for the pandemic to become much more serious,” said Paulo Brandão, virologist at the University of Sao Paulo.
Bolsonaro said Brazilians must resume their lives to avoid an economic crisis, but most state governors have adopted restrictions to keep people at home and slow the spread of the virus.
New Zealand reported only three new infections on Tuesday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said people have done an incredible job in breaking the chain of communication, but warned that they should remain vigilant.
“There may still be ashes smoldering, and they have the potential to turn back to wildfire, if we give them a chance,” she said, citing a microbiologist.
His government released its lock, which had closed schools and most businesses. Surfers hit the waves at dawn, builders returned to construction sites, and baristas turned on espresso machines. Most students will continue to study at home, employees should work from home if possible, and everyone is expected to maintain social distance.
In Australia, authorities reopened Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on Tuesday to swimmers and surfers, and hundreds of people returned to the water. People can only use the beach during the day, cannot linger and are limited to ensure social distance. Australia has only 83 confirmed virus deaths, less than the death toll in at least half of the United States.
But in Japan, a top medical expert said he thought it would be difficult to host the rescheduled Summer Olympics even in 2021 without an effective coronavirus vaccine.
“I hope that vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible,” said Yoshitake Yokokura, president of the Japan Medical Association.
Japan and the International Olympic Committee have agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games to July 2021 due to the pandemic. Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid rapidly increasing infections across the country, where hospitals are overcrowded.
Becatoros has been reported from Athens, Greece and Perry from Wellington, New Zealand. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
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