The United States grapples with a pandemic as its origins are traced in China

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ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – The United States was facing the worst coronavirus epidemic in the world on Monday, while Florida broke the national record for the largest single day increase in the state of new confirmed cases. Meanwhile, two experts from the World Health Organization traveled to China on a mission to trace the origin of the pandemic. The virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in central China late last year. Beijing was reluctant to allow an investigation, but gave in after dozens of countries called on WHO to conduct a full investigation.

Deaths from the virus have increased in the United States, particularly in the south and west, although they are still well below the figures reached in April, according to a recent analysis by the Associated Press on data from Johns Hopkins University.

“I really think we could control this, and it’s the human element that is so critical. It should be an effort by our country. We should pull ourselves together when we are in crisis, and we certainly do not. “Said Dr. Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida.

Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House Coronavirus task force, described wearing a mask in public, which has encountered resistance in some American states, “absolutely essential.”

Giroir, the deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, told ABC “This Week” on Sunday that “if we don’t have it, we won’t control the virus.”

President Donald Trump wore a mask in public for the first time on Saturday, something the Speaker of the House of Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, said on Sunday showed that he had “crossed a bridge”.

Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she hoped it would mean the president “would change his attitude, which would be helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”

In Florida, where parts of Walt Disney World reopened on Saturday, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases, and 45 deaths were recorded, according to State Department of Health statistics released Sunday .

California had the previous record of daily positive cases – 11,694, set on Wednesday.

The numbers come at the end of a record week when Florida reported 514 deaths – an average of 73 per day. Three weeks ago, the state killed an average of 30 people a day.

Researchers expect deaths to increase in the United States for at least a few weeks, but some believe the number is unlikely to increase as dramatically as in the spring due to several factors, including the increase tests.

Regarding WHO experts in China, spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said they would work with Chinese scientists and medical experts on “scientific cooperation on the new tracing issue.” coronaviruses “.

China argued that the virus could have originated outside of China and angrily denied allegations that it had covered the scale of the epidemic as the infections began to spread.

President Donald Trump severely criticized the WHO for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused it of bowing to Chinese influence. The Trump administration officially notified the UN last week of its withdrawal from the WHO, although the withdrawal will not take effect until July 6, 2021.

“We have a basic consensus with the WHO that virus tracing is a scientific issue, and that requires international scientific research and the cooperation of scientists around the world,” said ministry spokesman Hua during a speech. ‘a daily briefing. “WHO also believes that tracing the virus is an ongoing problem, which can affect several countries and regions, and WHO will also carry out similar inspections in other countries and regions if necessary. ”

WHO confirmed the visit of an epidemiologist and a specialist in animal diseases but did not give information on their agendas in China. The virus that causes the deadly disease COVID-19 is said to originate from bats, then jumped into humans via an intermediate species, perhaps the anteater-like pangolin that is prized in China for its scales used. in Chinese medicine as well as its meat.

In Japan, more than 30 Marines tested positive at the U.S. air station Futenma in Okinawa, where infections among U.S. service members have rapidly increased to more than 90 since last week. Okinawa is home to more than half of the approximately 50,000 American soldiers based in Japan.

Confirmed cases were also discovered at three other Okinawa bases: 22 at Camp Hansen, one at Camp Kinser and one at Camp McTureous. Officials said the movement of people to Futenma and Camp Hansen has since been restricted and that large-scale virus tests are underway.

In other parts of the world, the number of infections has increased dramatically in India, South Africa and Brazil, whose president who refuses the virus has turned out to be positive.

India, which has the most confirmed virus cases after the United States and Brazil, reported a record increase of 28,701 new cases reported in the past 24 hours on Monday. Authorities in several cities are restoring strict bans after trying to relax things to revive a struggling economy.

In South Africa, which accounts for more than 40% of all coronavirus cases reported in Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that the country would reimpose a ban on the sale of alcohol in order to reduce the volume of people in need of alcohol. so that hospitals have more beds to treat COVIDs. -19 patients.

South Africa is also re-establishing a night curfew to reduce traffic accidents and has made it mandatory for all residents to wear a face mask in public.

“We are taking these measures fully aware that they are placing unwelcome restrictions on people’s lives. However, they are necessary to help us get through the peak of the disease, “Ramaphosa said in a letter to the nation on Monday. “There is no way we can avoid the coronavirus storm. But we can limit the damage it can cause to our lives. ”

In France, the government planned to require the use of masks in all interior public spaces amid a small increase in viral infections and a sharp drop in public vigilance. Greece was seeking to ban church and village fairs and tighten tourism-related controls following a recent increase in confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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Gorondi reported from Budapest, Hungary. Associated Press writers from around the world contributed to this report.

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