• Thursday, Jul 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:21 am

Coronavirus deaths reach 377,000 as Latin America struggles

  • Published at 03:57 pm June 2nd, 2020
Coronavirus Sao Paulo, Brazil
File Photo: Employees carry the coffin of a person who died from Covid-19 at the Vila Formosa cemetery, in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 20, 2020 AFP

Four of the 10 countries across the globe with the greatest number of new coronavirus infections on Monday were in Latin America

The global death toll from the coronavirus topped 377,000 on Tuesday as the disease continued to tear through Latin America, but in Europe the return to normality gathered pace with the French heading back to their beloved cafes and restaurants.

Healthcare systems across Latin America risk being overwhelmed by the illness, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, as fatalities from the disease in hard-hit Brazil neared 30,000.

The warning from the global health body came as a sister UN agency issued new guidelines for pandemic-hit airlines that reveal what flying might look like when passenger planes take to the skies again in earnest.

The march of the illness across the Americas comes as other parts of the world return to relative normality after weeks of restrictions on daily life that have wrecked economies and left millions jobless.

Schools, swimming pools, pubs and tourist sites have begun to open again in Europe as the continent continues easing lockdowns despite the threat of a second wave of infections.

The pandemic has now infected at least 6.3 million since erupting in China in late 2019.

Four of the 10 countries across the globe with the greatest number of new coronavirus infections on Monday were in Latin America, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said.

Brazil, Peru, Chile and Mexico are suffering the highest daily increases, but numbers are also on the rise in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Haiti.

The region has logged one million cases and recorded more than 50,000 deaths, with Brazil accounting for more than half of those cases and close to 60% of the fatalities.

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro said on Monday, however, that the popular tourist city would start gradually easing lockdown measures from Tuesday, beginning with the re-opening of places of worship, and water sports.

Mexico also began re-opening on Monday, reactivating the automotive industry, mining and construction even as the country recorded more than 10,000 virus deaths.

Ryan warned that the region faces a tough battle in the weeks ahead.

'Light at the end'

In Europe however, countries have started to emerge from lockdowns - cautiously adopting a post-pandemic version of normal. 

Bars resumed service in Finland and Norway - with social distancing restrictions or shortened hours in place - while some schools in Britain and Greece opened their doors. 

Britain reported 111 more virus deaths on Monday, the lowest daily toll since its lockdown started on March 23.

London's Camden Market cautiously opened for the first time in 10 weeks, with stallholders excited to welcome customers.

"We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel," said Mario Warner, owner of a nearby clothing store that has been given the green light to open in two weeks.

Greece opened some hotels, schools, pools and tattoo parlours, while Italy re-opened the Colosseum, although only to Italians.

There was also good news from Spain, which on Monday recorded its first 24-hour period without a Covid-19 death since March 3.

France registered 31 deaths over the last 24 hours and on Tuesday re-opened cafes, restaurants and bistros that have been closed since its lockdown began in mid-March.

Gatherings hit

Much of East Asia, meanwhile, has seen infections slow to a trickle in recent weeks, but restrictions on mass gatherings remain.

Hong Kong's annual candlelight vigil for those killed in China's 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown has been banned for the first time due to Covid-19 concerns. 

And in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern criticised Black Lives Matter protesters for flouting social distancing rules when the country is on the verge of eliminating the virus.

Pupils wearing face masks returned to schools in Singapore and some workplaces re-opened as restrictions were eased on Tuesday in the Asian city-state.

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