With lockdowns and travel restrictions gradually being lifted amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, governments are bracing themselves for a possible second wave of infections. A sudden swell of cases in countries like Singapore and South Korea, which were earlier considered success stories for quickly and efficiently containing the outbreak, has also set off alarm bells across the world.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) official timeline of the coronavirus pandemic begins with a small cluster of cases first identified in Wuhan, China. Despite a steady surge in cases soon after, the Chinese government was able to largely stem the spread of the virus through aggressive testing and strict lockdown measures.
However, a little over two months after China declared that it had successfully contained the pandemic, the country has started to record over 100 new cases per day. China is not alone. Several countries across the world are showing signs of a similar resurgence of Covid-19 infections despite reporting a significant decline in cases merely a few months ago.
Here are some countries where new cases are being reported once again
Despite an initial lull in the number of coronavirus cases being reported city-wide, Hong Kong is now in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic. This time around, the numbers are higher than ever. While it was reporting an average of under 10 new cases a day less than a month ago, the city is now reporting over 100 new cases daily.
Earlier this week, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam urged people to stay at home as the city was on the verge of a “large-scale community outbreak”. Mandatory use of face masks and the shutting down of dine-in restaurants are among a new spate of measures introduced by local administration to contain the recent outbreak.
After Hong Kong reported its first case in January, numbers remained low till March when overseas students and other residents began returning to the country. While most people arriving in the country were made to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine, some groups were exempt from this rule.
According to a BBC report, at least 200,000 people — including seafarers, air crew and some company executives — did not have to undergo quarantine so that everyday operations were not disrupted. As a result, the territory witnessed a significant spike in cases.
Social distancing measures were revoked as early as June. This too has contributed to the rise in infections.
Earlier this week, Vietnam recorded its first Covid-19 case in over three months. Since then, Vietnam has been bracing for a rise in cases after multiple new infections were reported across the country. Health officials are claiming that the fresh cases have been caused by a more virulent new strain of the virus that originated outside the country.
The central city of Da Nang, where a majority of the new cases have been reported, was put under lockdown on Tuesday. State officials are now trying to evacuate over 80,000 tourists who were visiting the popular holiday destination this week. To help ease the growing pressure on hospitals, a sports auditorium was recently converted into a Covid-19 care centre.
Earlier this year, the country was praised by the WHO for successfully mitigating the impact of the pandemic. It was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose strict quarantine and contact tracing measures.
Today, the island nation of Fiji recorded its first Covid-19 death. The country’s Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete confirmed the demise of a 66-year-old man, who was in border quarantine after being repatriated from India.
Fiji had declared itself coronavirus-free as early as in June, this year. Soon after, as residents stranded in foreign nations began to return home, the country recorded nine new cases. With the death of the 66-year-old man, the total number of active cases now stands at eight.
However, Waqainabete has confirmed that all eight cases are in border quarantine. The Fiji government has maintained that the public is safe and the island nation is still a “Covid-contained country”.
In June this year, health officials in South Korea confirmed that a second wave of infections was being witnessed in the country. The east Asian nation had been regarded as one of the world’s leading examples on how to combat the pandemic, as it was able to contain the spread of the virus as early as April through aggressive testing and contact tracing.
However, in May new clusters began to grow across the country. The number of cases quickly began to escalate particularly in the capital city of Seoul and in Gwangju. “Imported cases” were largely seen as the major factor contributing to the sudden rise in cases.
Ever since Spain lifted a nationwide state of emergency on June 21, the number of new coronavirus cases has steadily surged. A majority of the new clusters were reported in Catalonia and Aragon.
As a result, fresh lockdowns were imposed across the country and several other European countries, including Britain, barred the entry of Spanish tourists. However, the countries’ leading coronavirus expert Fernando Simon says that the rise in infections is not caused by a second wave.
“A second wave would be when we have uncontrolled, widespread community transmission,” he said at a recent press conference. According to Simon, the outbreak is under control in most parts of Spain, apart from Catalonia and Aragon.
The country recorded 1,229 new cases since Thursday, the sharpest surge on record since April 30.
Over the last few weeks, Australia has been experiencing an unprecedented spike in the number of new coronavirus cases through community transmission. In the first week of July, Victoria’s total caseload crossed that of New South Wales, and has only risen further since. The state’s capital Melbourne has become the epicentre of the second wave of the pandemic in the country.
New cases in Melbourne have continued to surge despite a three-week lockdown. The outbreak has also been held responsible for new clusters in other parts of the country, including Sydney and in regions neighbouring New South Wales (NSW).
The number of local transmissions overtook the total infections acquired overseas as early as in April. Despite this, the rate of infection appeared to have been steadily decreasing then.
However, just as authorities began to lift restrictions across the country in June, new cases began emerging in NSW and Victoria. The Victoria government was prompted to re-impose a six-week partial lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask was also made mandatory once again.
After the country began to relax lockdown restrictions in April, Iran witnessed a rapid spike in coronavirus cases from mid-May onwards. The rise in infections has also been accompanied by a steadily increasing death toll. In June, the total number of Covid-related deaths crossed 100 for the first time.
Since June, the country has been recording an average of 3,000 cases per day. Due to the rising numbers, Iran is now vigorously testing its citizenry. One in every 38 people were tested by 22 July, BBC reported. The amount of testing was considerably higher than at the onset of the pandemic.
According to the countries’ chief epidemiologist, the main reason behind rising numbers is that they have begun to identify infected people with mild to no symptoms. According to Health Minister Saeed Namaki said people were ignoring social distancing rules.
In an attempt to curb the spread of the disease, authorities have reimposed restrictions on public gatherings in the capital city of Tehran, and have made wearing a mask in crowded places mandatory everywhere.
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