Global coronavirus cases top 6 million as leaders disagree on pandemic response

Global coronavirus cases top 6 million as leaders disagree on pandemic response
The number of coronavirus fatalities in Brazil nears 30,000. Above, gravediggers bury the body of a person who died from the disease in Rio de Janeiro on May 29, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 31 May 2020

Global coronavirus cases top 6 million as leaders disagree on pandemic response

Global coronavirus cases top 6 million as leaders disagree on pandemic response
  • Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead
  • Brazil is hotspot of South America’s outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases

BRASÍLIA: The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped six million Sunday, with Brazil registering another record surge in daily infections as divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.
Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.
In Brazil — the hotspot of South America’s outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, lagging only behind the United States — disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who fears the economic fallout from stay-at-home measures will be worse than the virus, has berated governors and mayors for imposing what he calls “the tyranny of total quarantine.”
As the global death toll from the pandemic surpassed 368,000, US President Donald Trump’s decision to permanently cut funding to the World Health Organization has been broadly criticized.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide is more than six million, according to an AFP tally.
“Now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions,” the European Union said in a statement, adding: “Actions that weaken international results must be avoided.”
Trump initially suspended funding to the WHO last month, accusing it of not doing enough to curb the early spread of the virus and being too lenient with China, where COVID-19 emerged late last year.
On Friday he moved to make that decision permanent in a major blow to the agency. The US is the WHO’s biggest contributor, supplying $400 million last year.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the “disappointing” decision was a setback for global health, while Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to attend an in-person G7 summit that Trump had suggested he would host.
As the virus progresses at different speeds around the globe, there has been pressure in many countries to lift crippling lockdowns, despite experts’ warnings of a possible second wave of infections.
In Britain, which is set to begin lifting its lockdown on Monday, senior advisers to the government warned that it was moving too quickly.
“COVID-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England,” tweeted Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
With infection numbers falling in many of Europe’s most affected countries, the push to restart economies was gaining steam.
Across the Atlantic, the US capital Washington resumed outdoor dining, while on the West Coast, restaurants and hair salons in Los Angeles reopened.
New York City, the worst-hit American city with about 21,500 coronavirus deaths, is on track to begin reopening the week of June 8.
The overall US death toll has topped 103,000 out of more than 1.7 million cases of the virus.