No new virus cases in China but Covid-19 infections and deaths surge in Latin America

A baby with a face shield waits to board a plane at an airport in Wuhan, China Credit: Kyodo News/AP

China, where the coronavirus outbreak began late last year, reported no new confirmed infections on Saturday for the first time as cases continued to fall across much of south east Asia.

But it is a different story in Latin American, where infections and deaths surged.

South Korea recorded 23 fresh infections, way down on the 500 daily cases recorded at the beginning of March.

The region is slowly beginning to restart economies while protecting against a feared second wave.

In Japan, bar hostesses and other nightlife workers have been issued with guidelines to protect themselves as venues reopen, including wearing masks, gargling every 30 minutes and disinfecting karaoke microphones after each use.

Cases in Brazil have surged. Credit: AP

Japan’s new cases have dwindled lately to double-digit figures each day while deaths related to the coronavirus are below 800.

South Korea has stabilised its outbreak using aggressive tracing and testing. More than 200 of the recent infections have been linked to clubgoers in Seoul as the country began easing restrictions.

Credit: PA Graphics

In the US, some regions were opening more quickly than others.

In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order, with theatres, gyms and other places of public accommodation closed for until at least June 12

“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet. If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbours and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” said the Democrat governor said after being pushed by president Donald Trump to reopen earlier.

Michigan has reported 5,158 confirmed deaths due to Covid-19 complications, the fourth largest tally of any state.

Nevada is preparing to reopen its shuttered casinos possibly by June 4, as the state continues to see decreasing cases of the coronavirus.

The US has been the hardest hit country, with more than 96,000 deaths among 1.6 million confirmed cases.

Street vendors sell vegetables in Lima, Peru Credit: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Latin America’s two largest nations – Mexico and Brazil – have reported record numbers of infections and deaths almost daily this week, fuelling criticism of their presidents, who have dragged their feet over shutdowns in an attempt to limit economic damage.

Brazil has reported more than 330,000 confirmed cases, surpassing Russia to become the nation with the second-highest number of infections, behind only the US, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Brazil also has recorded more than 21,000 deaths, though experts believe the numbers are higher.

The virus “does not forgive”, Uber driver Bruno Almeida de Mello said at the burial of his grandmother Vandelma Rosa, 66, in Rio de Janeiro. “It does not choose race or if you are rich or poor, black or white. It’s a cruel disease.”

A city worker, dressed in protective gear, delivers a box of food to a vulnerable family in Santiago during a mandatory quarantine ordered by the Chilean government Credit: Esteban Felix/AP

Mr de Mello said his grandmother’s death certificate reads “suspected of Covid-19” but the hospital did not have the tests necessary to confirm it. That means her death was not counted in the official toll.

Experts said the surging deaths across Latin America showed the limits of government action in a region where millions have informal jobs and many police forces are weak or corrupt and unable to enforce restrictions.

Infections also rose and intensive care units were swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines.

Colombia’s Ministry of Health also reported its biggest daily increases on Friday, with 801 new confirmed infections and 30 deaths. Nearly 20,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in the country, which has been locked down for nearly two months.