Members of the public in Hong Kong, France and parts of Australia ordered to wear masks when away from home, as governments around the world try to stem the spread of Covid-19 amid skyrocketing infection rates and death toll .
The virus has now infected nearly 14.5 million people worldwide and killed more than 605,000 people.
the United States – the country by far the most affected – recorded nearly 3.7 million infections and 140,000 deaths. Yet the country is struggling to frame a coherent response to the crisis, with President Donald Trump refusing to force masks to be worn in public and calling White House infectious disease expert Dr.Anthony Fauci “ a little alarmist ”.
Officials in the Australian state of Victoria have taken a more stringent approach. Face masks and blankets will be mandatory for about five million people in and around Melbourne as of Thursday, with the threat of fines of $ 140 for transgressors. The region recorded 275 cases on Monday. Nearly 150 people are hospitalized, including 31 in intensive care.
“Most of us wouldn’t leave the house without our keys, we wouldn’t leave our house without our cell phone. You won’t be able to leave the house without your mask, ”Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
In France too, people risk a fine of 135 euros (154 dollars) from Monday for non-compliance with a new decree to wear a mask in public places inside.
Hong Kong also tightened its measures, the leader Carrie Lam on Sunday confirming daily infections exceeding 100 for the first time in the territory.
Lam had previously ordered businesses to close and made face masks mandatory on public transport, but said it would soon be mandatory to wear them inside any covered public place.
In the United States, however, Trump has refused to make masks mandatory.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Trump said, “Everyone was saying ‘Don’t wear a mask,’ all of a sudden everyone has to wear a mask and as you know, masks cause problems as well. That being said, I believe in masks, I think masks are good. But I leave it to the governors.
The New York Times reported that the Trump administration’s decision to leave the mask rules to governors “has led to a patchwork of policies. More than half of states have issued mask requirements, but with many Americans feeling mask orders infringe on individual freedom, some governors are holding firm. “
European leaders, meanwhile, struggled to save a € 750 billion ($ 860 billion) virus recovery package under siege at a summit on Sunday. Economic recovery is at the forefront of policymakers’ minds, with the continent facing a crippling recession and still unable to agree on the terms of its massive package to help the countries most affected.
In a sincere speech, the President of the Council of the EU, Charles Michel, reminded the 27 leaders of the Union of the devastating human cost of the pandemic – 600,000 dead including 200,000 in Europe – and urged them to come together to carry out a “mission impossible”.
“The question is: are the 27 leaders, responsible for European citizens, capable of building European unity and confidence? »Said Michel.
“Or are we going to present the face of a weak Europe, undermined by mistrust?”
Other key developments in the pandemic include:
- South AfricaThe death toll from the coronavirus has exceeded 5,000, according to official figures released on Sunday. South Africa has recorded 85 new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 5,033. A total of 13,449 new infections have also been officially diagnosed, bringing the number to 364,328, according to the reports. figures released by the Ministry of Health.
- China has recorded 17 cases of coronavirus in western Xinjiang province. The capital Urumqi has entered a “state of war”.
The President of The SaviorNayib Bukele said on Sunday that he would postpone the second phase of the country’s economic reopening, which is expected to start on Tuesday, after assessing contributions from experts and the Salvadoran health ministry.
North KoreaCEO Kim Jong Un berated construction officials for unspecified problems in the construction of a flagship hospital in comments reported Monday that may indicate the country is struggling to secure supplies in the middle US sanctions and a coronavirus lockdown.
Papua New Guinea recorded its first Covid-19-related death – the first death on a Pacific island outside U.S. territories and the first in Melanesia – as it seeks to contain an outbreak at the main hospital in its capital, Port Moresby .