One month since coronavirus declared pandemic: 5 things to know

Since the virus was declared a pandemic on March 11, deaths have surged from 4,300 to more than 103,000.

It has been one month since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

The outbreak, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has so far killed at least 103,000 people and infected more than 1.7 million people worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 380,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 – the highly contagious disease caused by the virus. There is still no vaccine for COVID-19 nor any specially developed treatment.

Here are five important developments over the last month:

Rise in global cases and deaths

Since the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11, the total number of cases globally has risen from 118,000 to more than 1.7 million in a span of one month. 

Deaths have surged from 4,300 to at least 103,257. 

Drop in China infections

Cases in mainland China have dwindled, with the country reporting its lowest rate of new coronavirus patients since January.

No new domestic cases were reported on March 18 for the first time since the start of the outbreak, while there were no deaths on April 7. 

The city of Wuhan, which was subjected to the most aggressive quarantine in China, is slowly returning to normal with its 11-week lockdown imposed at the end of January now completely lifted

Europe becomes new epicentre, spike in US

The epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak shifted from China to Europe, with Spain, Italy, France and Germany reporting a spike in cases and fatalities. 

All four European nations have surpassed China’s number of confirmed cases, while the death toll in Spain, Italy and France is more than four times that of the Asian nation.

Meanwhile, at more than 500,000, the United States now tops the list of countries with the most confirmed cases and the second-highest fatalities after Italy. 

The WHO has warned that the US has the potential to become the new epicentre due to a “very large acceleration” in infections there.

More lockdowns, restrictions

An increasing number of countries imposed lockdowns, curfews and border closures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

On March 27, India announced a 21-day total lockdown of its 1.3 billion population, while South Africa imposed similar nationwide restrictions on 57 million people. 

An unprecedented month-long lockdown in the Philippines banned domestic travel in and out of Metro Manila’s 16 cities and municipalities. Meanwhile, more than 57 million people will remain confined to the northern island of Luzon until April 30. 

The spike in cases and deaths also forced the US and Japan to declare a state of emergency over the virus.

The US order frees up $50bn for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak, while a $990bn stimulus package was announced to tackle the crisis in Japan. 

In the Middle East, countries stepped up measures, with lockdowns in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia and strict curfews in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan

WHO under attack 

The WHO has faced criticism over its approach and handling of the pandemic. 

US President Donald Trump threatened to freeze American funding to the global health agency saying it “missed the call” on the coronavirus pandemic and was “very China-centric” in its approach.

“The WHO really blew it,” Trump said in a Twitter post.

WHO officials hit back at the US president, denying it was “China-centric”, and accused Trump of politicising the pandemic.

“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicise this virus,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news briefing in Geneva, addressing politicians and world leaders.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has asserted that its exclusion from the WHO because of China’s objections to its membership resulted in it being unable to get timely information, putting Taiwanese lives at risk. The WHO denies the allegation.

Last month, Taiwan said it had received no reply from the WHO to a December 31 query for information on the outbreak in China’s central city of Wuhan, including whether it could be transmitted between people.

The WHO has said the email it received made no mention of human-to-human transmission.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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