Mexico, 3rd among virus deaths in the world; the storm could hamper the American response

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PARIS – Mexico now has the third highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world, behind Brazil and the United States, where a hurricane hitting the east coast on Saturday threatens to complicate efforts to contain the virus. The impending arrival of Hurricane Isaias forced the closure of some outdoor test sites even as Florida hit a new daily death record and other states on the storm’s path prepared for shelters from emergency consistent with social distancing measures.

“We had to put safety first,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Mexican health officials reported 688 new deaths on Friday, bringing the country’s confirmed total to over 46,600. That puts Mexico just ahead of the UK, which has more than 46,100, according to the report. Johns Hopkins University count.

Some countries are seeing encouraging signs: China has reported a drop of more than 50% in newly confirmed cases, which could indicate that its last major outbreak in the northwestern Xinjiang region may have run its course.

However, in Hong Kong and elsewhere, infections continue to rise. Hong Kong reported more than 100 new cases on Saturday among a population of 7.5 million. Officials have reimposed dining restrictions and mask requirements.

Tokyo experienced its third straight day of record-breaking cases on Saturday, the metropolitan government said. Nationwide, the daily number of cases in Japan totaled a record 1,579 people on Friday, the health ministry said. The growing number has alarmed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as other regional leaders.

And Vietnam, a former success story, is struggling to control an epidemic that is spreading through its most famous seaside resort. A third person has died there from complications from the coronavirus, officials said on Saturday, a day after recording his first death as he battled a new outbreak after 99 days without a local case.

All three died in a hospital in Da Nang, a hot spot with more than 100 cases last week. Thousands of visitors had traveled to the city for the summer vacation and are currently being tested in Hanoi and elsewhere.

Twelve more cases were confirmed on Saturday, all linked to Da Nang hospital. Authorities have stepped up security and set up more checkpoints to prevent people from leaving or entering the city, which has been on lockdown since Tuesday.

A makeshift hospital has been set up and doctors have been mobilized from other towns to help.

“I want to be tested, so I can stop worrying about whether I have the virus or not,” said Pham Thuy Hoa, a bank official who returned to the capital from Da Nang.

In South Korea, prosecutors arrested the elderly leader of a secret religious sect linked to more than 5,200 of the country’s approximately 14,300 confirmed cases. He denied accusations of concealing members and under-reporting gatherings to avoid broader quarantines.

The global pandemic has affected almost every aspect of this year’s Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, with as few as 1,000 pilgrims already residing in Saudi Arabia, up from 2.5 million last year.

The poverty brought on by the pandemic also makes it more difficult for many to participate in the four-day Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” in which Muslims slaughter cattle and distribute meat to the poor.

“I could barely buy food for my family,” Somali official Abdishakur Dahir said. “We are surviving just for the moment. Life is getting more difficult every day. ”

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said there have been no cases of COVID-19 among pilgrims this year. All were tested, their movements monitored with electronic bracelets, and had to be quarantined before and after.

Meanwhile, India recorded its highest peak of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing its burden of coronavirus cases to nearly 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

The country’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has postponed the resumption of international flights by one month until August 31. But it will continue to allow several international carriers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East to operate special flights to evacuate stranded nationals.

In France, travelers from 16 countries where the virus now circulates widely must undergo viral tests upon arrival at airports and ports. The country does not allow general travel to and from countries, which include the United States and Brazil. The screening obligation therefore only applies to people entering in limited circumstances, including French citizens residing in these countries. Those who test positive on Saturday must be quarantined for 14 days.

As autumn approaches, countries around the world are wondering how to safely reopen schools.

A scientist advising the UK government on the coronavirus pandemic said pubs in England may have to be closed to allow schools to reopen in September. Graham Medley, a member of the government’s science advisory group for emergencies, told the BBC there could be a “compromise.”

In Utah, the Salt Lake City School District School Board announced that its schools would start the year with all classes online only in response to a growing number of confirmed cases in the city. Just days after public schools in Indiana reopened, at least one student and school staff in Indianapolis districts tested positive for the virus.

The debate over school openings came as Dr Anthony Fauci dismissed a tweet from President Donald Trump claiming that the United States’ world lead in coronavirus cases was due to an increase in testing.

Fauci said the scale of the outbreak in the United States was the result of several factors, including opening some states too quickly and failing to follow federal guidelines.

On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization predicted that the effects of the pandemic would be felt for “decades to come”.

“Most people around the world remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe epidemics,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in London. “Although vaccine development is proceeding at an record speed, we have to learn to live with this virus.”

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Leicester reported from Pecq, France and McGuirk from Canberra, Australia. AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

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