Latin America sets records for coronavirus cases, death while world inches to normalcy

Intensive care medical staff at Gilberto Novaes Hospital in Manaus, Brazil, which has seen a record number of coronavirus deaths, monitor coronavirus patients on May 20, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 24 May 2020

Latin America sets records for coronavirus cases, death while world inches to normalcy

  • New coronavirus cases in India top 6,000 for a second consecutive day
  • Bahrain confirms 360 new COVID-19 infections

DUBAI: The global community is on a slow return to normalcy, disrupted for weeks by the coronavirus pandemic, with countries continuing to ease lockdown restrictions earlier imposed to safeguard public health.

While some countries managed to tame the infection curve, with minimal cases being reported, Latin American states are setting records for cases and death with the region now the newest coronavirus hot spot.

May 23, 2020, Saturday (All times in GMT)

15:07  UK coronavirus death toll rises by 282 to 36,675.

12:20 – The Syrian government has announced the largest single day jump of recorded cases in the country, where so far testing has been limited.

11:35 – Iran has recorded 59 new coronavirus deaths and 1,869 new cases.

10:44 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls on Saturday from opposition parties to sack adviser Dominic Cummings after he traveled 400 kilometers while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms so that their son could be looked after by his family. READ MORE

10:24 – New cases of the coronavirus in India topped 6,000 for a second consecutive day, marking another record jump for the South Asian country in a 24-hour period. READ THE STORY

A security personnel stands in an area with marked social distancing reminders at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad on May 23, 2020. (AFP)

10:18 – Bahrain has confirmed 360 new COVID-19 cases.

09:43 – Oman has registered 463 new coronavirus cases, raising total infections to 7,257.

09:15 – Tokyo has confirmed two new coronavirus cases, the lowest since a state of emergency was declared.

09:10 – Indonesia has recorded 949 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally of infections to 21,745.

09:06 – Anti-viral drug remdesivir cuts recovery times in coronavirus patients, according to the full results of a trial published Friday night. READ THE STORY

08:54 – Malaysia has reported 48 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 7,185. The health ministry also said no new deaths were recorded, with the number of fatalities remaining at 115.

08:53 Four EU countries dubbing themselves the “frugal four” presented their own proposal Saturday for post-coronavirus economic recovery, restating their rejection of any jointly-issued debt instruments.

07:41Iran moved to open businesses, religious and cultural sites as it eases restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

07:39Russia has reported 9,434 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

07:24Singapore’s health ministry said it had confirmed 642 more coronavirus cases, taking its tally of infections to 31,068.

A man jogs past a four-legged robot called Spot, which broadcasts a message reminding people to observe safe distancing, during its trial at the Bishan-Ang Moh Kio Park in Singapore on May 8, 2020. (AFP)

07:15 – Afghanistan has reported 11 new coronavirus deaths and 784 new cases, raising total infections to 9,998.

05:24 – President Donald Trump has labeled churches and other houses of worship as “essential” and called on governors nationwide to let them reopen this weekend even though some areas remain under coronavirus lockdown.

04:54Thailand reported three new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 3,040 confirmed cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

04:44 – The UN disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic was moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration, but “cybercrime was also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”

04:22 – The mayor of Los Angeles dismissed a Trump administration warning that the city’s continued lockdown due to coronavirus could be illegal, saying he would not be “pushed by politics.”

04:18 – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 638 to 177,850, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

03:36Australia’s most populous state said it recorded just three new cases of the coronavirus the previous day and urged younger people to get tested as it prepares to further loosen restrictions on pubs and restaurants.

03:18 – The UAE has recorded 994 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total on infections in the country to 27,892, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health.

02:16 – A surging coronavirus is ravaging parts of Latin America, setting records for cases and deaths in some countries in the world’s most unequal region even as the pandemic’s march slows in much of Europe, Asia and the United States.

India faces worst locust crisis in decades

Updated 05 June 2020

India faces worst locust crisis in decades

  • Indo-Pak border a breeding ground for bug; worst attack in over 20 years, says expert

NEW DELHI: Suresh Kumar was sipping tea on the balcony of his Jaipur house on Friday when the sun suddenly disappeared. Thinking it was probably a black cloud that was filtering out the daylight, he looked up and saw swarms of locusts covering the sky of the capital city of the western Indian state of Rajasthan.

Within a few minutes, short-horned grasshoppers were everywhere —walls, balconies and nearby trees — as they forced people to take refuge in their houses.

“It was unprecedented,” Kumar, who lives in Jaipur’s walled city area, told Arab News on Thursday. “Never before have I witnessed such a scene. Suddenly millions of aliens invaded our locality. Some residents of the neighborhood tried to bang some steel plates to shoo them off, but the jarring sound did not make much of an impact. However, the swarms left the area within an hour or so.”

More than a thousand kilometers away, in the Balaghat district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, farmer Dev Singh had a similar experience, although the bugs not only occupied his farmhouse, they destroyed the budding leaves of different kinds of pulses which he had sown in his field.

“Only a few weeks ago I harvested the wheat crop,” he told Arab News. “In a way, I’m lucky that the locusts have come now … otherwise the damage would have been much greater,” but he added that “with the pulse plant damaged in good measure, the yield will not be great this year.”

His area has been cleared of the locusts after the intervention of local authorities, which sprayed chemicals to kill the bugs and blared out sirens to shoo them off.

India is already grappling with an alarming surge of coronavirus cases and struggling to cope with the devastation caused by a recent cyclone. The country is also dealing with rising unemployment figures after more than 100 million people went jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is facing security issues, too, in the form of a seething border dispute with China. The locust invasion has added to beleaguered India’s laundry list of woes.

Scientists said it was a serious crisis.

“This is the worst locust attack in more than two decades,” Dr. K. L. Gurjar, of the Faridabad-based Locust Warning Organization, told Arab News. “Compared to the past, these locusts are younger and have traveled a longer distance. This should be a cause of concern. The states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will be badly impacted. We are controlling and containing the situation on a daily basis.”

According to media reports, around 50,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed by desert locusts in the two states during the last four weeks.

“The problem will persist until the invasion of swarms continues from across the border in Pakistan and Iran. The Indo-Pak border has become the breeding ground for the bug,” Gurjar added.

But he remained hopeful that the country would get rid of the menace through its measures, despite the present danger.

“There is a danger of locusts remaining alive for a longer period, though we are hopeful to ultimately sort them out.”

The Jawaharlal Nehru Agriculture University (JNAU) of Jabalpur has also been monitoring the situation in Madhya Pradesh, noting that locusts damage the crop completely wherever they go.

“Desert locusts stay immobile throughout the night and their movement begins again in the morning and they fly along the direction of the wind,” JNAU’s Dr. Om Gupta told Arab News. “Wherever they find shelter, they damage the crops in totality. In some areas, locusts have created havoc.”

She added that spray was generally used in the evening or early morning to kill the bugs. “They breed very fast and we focus on killing their eggs. What we are dealing with is nothing short of a catastrophe, and we are not going to get respite from this anytime soon.”