Asian nations step up fight against virus as pandemic rages around the world

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Tokyo (AFP)

Asian countries were stepping up their fight against the coronavirus again on Thursday in a new effort to eradicate a disease they had previously tamed, joining Europe to impose new brakes.

Japan was set to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo before the release of figures that are expected to show a record number of infections, while China reported its highest number of single-day cases since July.

It comes a day after the world recorded a record number of deaths in a single day and the European Union approved a second vaccine.

There has also been no slowdown in the spread in North America, where Canada has been forced to order its first pandemic curfew in a bid to stop a second wave.

The global epidemic shows no signs of slowing down, with more than 1.8 million people known to have died globally out of 86 million confirmed cases.

The outbreak in Japan has not been as severe as those in Europe and the United States, but on Thursday the government was forced to announce new restrictions in the capital region which it said would last for a month , mainly targeting restaurants and bars.

The brakes will be much less stringent than the severe lockouts seen in other parts of the world. Businesses are urged to stop serving alcohol at 7 p.m. and close an hour later, and residents have been asked to avoid non-essential outings after 8 p.m.

Local media said Tokyo would report more than 2,400 new cases on Thursday, shattering the previous record of 1,591 recorded a day earlier.

The minister in charge of the response to the pandemic in Japan warned that Tokyo’s medical system was “under strain”.

– ‘I can’t leave town’ –

In neighboring China, authorities reported 63 new infections on Thursday – the highest daily tally since July – as authorities tried to eradicate an outbreak in a city of 11 million people near Beijing.

The government in Shijiazhuang City in northern China’s Hebei Province forced school closures, cut travel links and began mass testing as cases skyrocketed.

“I did the nucleic acid test last night, but I don’t have the results yet. Without it, I can’t leave town, ”a young woman told CCTV state television.

One part of the city has been cordoned off, while the main highways leading to the area have been closed and intercity bus travel halted.

Experts see mass vaccinations as the best way to get back to normal, but the first deployments have coincided with alarming spikes in deaths and case numbers in many parts of the world.

The latest global figures provide a grim reading. On Wednesday, a record 15,769 Covid-19-related deaths were recorded worldwide in the space of 24 hours.

In North America, the virus continues to rage, with Mexico reporting more than 1,100 deaths and more than 13,000 infections on Wednesday.

In Canada, Quebec authorities have imposed an $ 8 million curfew on the province from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., which will last four weeks, and violators could face fines of up to CAN $ 6,000 ( US $ 4,700).

A curfew of this magnitude has not been declared in Canada since the Spanish flu a century ago, historians say.

The province has joined with Ontario – Canada’s economic engine with a population of 14 million – in restricting the movement of people and their daily activities.

– Lockdowns en Europe –

The EU on Wednesday cleared the Moderna vaccine for use in the 27-nation bloc, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved last month.

Several European governments have been criticized for slow deployments, with the Netherlands not delivering its first blows until Wednesday.

And the vaccines have yet to relieve weary Europeans of the burden of home orders, curfews, closed shops and closed schools.

A new lockdown went into effect in Britain on Wednesday, and Ireland followed suit shortly thereafter.

“We just need to crack down on this push,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told reporters.

fraises-axn / qan

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