Covid-19 surges in China, Hong Kong fears mass spread
China reported 101 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the highest since April, according to the national health commission (NHC) on Wednesday, as Beijing is expanding nucleic acid testing and contact tracing for new clusters mushrooming in various cities.
Fear also gripped Hong Kong, which is in the spotlight of a US-China tussle these days, whose leader Carrie Lam warned that the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of the coronavirus and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible.
Lam said, “We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives. I appeal to you to strictly follow social distancing measures and stay at home.”
In China, 89 cases were reported from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in a record single-day spike. It took the total number of infections in the province to more than 320.
Also on Wednesday, the BBC reported that US attorney general William Barr will undergo a Covid-19 test since he had recently come into contact with Texan Republican congressman Louie Gohmert, who has tested positive. Barr had reportedly met Gohmert while testifying before the House judiciary panel on Tuesday.
Coronavirus deaths in the US rose by more than 1,200 on Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase since May. California and Florida reported a one-day record spike in deaths on Tuesday, together accounting for 362 of the 1,227 new fatalities.
US President Donald Trump issued a stout defence of the antimalarial drug HCQ as treatment for Covid-19, hours after social media companies took down videos promoting its use as misinformation.
In Saudi Arabia, Muslims began the hajj on Wednesday, circling Islam’s holiest site along socially-distanced paths in this year’s downsized pilgrimage.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- In Italy, unidentified persons painted the slogan “Khalistan Zindabad” on the facade of the Indian embassy in Rome and put up several pro-Khalistan flags and banners at the gate ahead of Republic Day.
- "Last time, we had preparations for 700 to 1,000 but finally more than 1,800 Rohingya moved there. People who moved earlier are calling their relatives and friends to go there. That's why more people are going there." Navy Commodore Abdullah Al Mamun Chowdhury told Reuters.
- The variant, identified in southeast England in December, is thought to be more transmissible, and could also be associated with higher mortality, though data suggesting increased death rates are uncertain and not yet strong.
- "We know China is working across the UN system to drive an authoritarian agenda that stands in opposition to the founding values of the institution - American values," veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield will say, when she appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.