GENEVA / TOKYO (Reuters) – The World Health Organization said Tuesday that the United States could become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, which eventually forced reluctant organizers to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
Britain joined the ranks of bloc countries to try to detain the virus, and data showed that commercial activity collapsed from Australia, Japan and Western Europe at a record pace in March, with the United States expecting it to be equally terrible.
“The coronavirus epidemic represents a serious external shock to the macro outlook, similar to a large-scale natural disaster,” said analysts at the BlackRock Investment Institute.
But amid the sadness of the harvest, the Chinese province of Hubei, where the virus was first identified in December, said it would lift travel restrictions for people leaving the region as the epidemic subsides.
Confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide exceeded 377,000 in 194 countries and territories earlier Tuesday, according to a Reuters count, over 16,500 of them fatal.
In Geneva, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters that there has been a “big acceleration” in infections in the United States.
In the previous 24 hours, 85% of new cases were in Europe and the United States, and of these, 40% were in the United States.
As of Monday, the virus had infected over 42,000 people there, killing at least 559.
Asked if the United States could become the new epicenter, Harris said, “We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the United States, so it has that potential.”
US state and local officials have denounced the lack of coordinated federal action, claiming that taking action on their own has put them in competition for supplies.
President Donald Trump acknowledged the difficulty.
“The world market for masks and fans is crazy. We’re helping states get equipment, but it’s not easy, “he tweeted.
OLYMPIC ORGANIZERS ENTER
The organizers of the Olympic Games and the Japanese government had clung to the hope that the biggest sporting event in the world could go on, but in the end they bowed to the inevitable to make Tokyo 2020 the last and greatest victim of a calendar. devastated sportsman.
After a phone call with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on July 24th. Event 9 will be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest, as proof of victory over the coronavirus.
“President Bach has said he agrees, 100%.”
It was the first time in the 124-year history of the Olympics that they had been postponed, although they had been canceled three times during the two world wars of the 20th century.
Of the top 10 countries by number of cases, Italy reported the highest mortality rate, around 10%, which at least partially reflects its elderly population. The global mortality rate – the ratio of confirmed deaths to infections – is around 4.3%, although national data may vary widely based on how many tests are performed.
Britain, believed by experts about two weeks behind Italy in the epidemic cycle, began to curb unprecedented peacetime movements on Tuesday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the country to stay home.
The streets of the capital were strangely silent since all but the essential shops closed and people only went to work if it was inevitable.
Johnson had resisted the pressure to impose a complete blockade even if other European countries had done so, but he was forced to change course as projections showed that the health system could be overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, the Chinese province of Hubei, the original center of the epidemic, will raise the sidewalks on people leaving the area, but other regions will strengthen controls as new cases will double due to imported infections.
The capital of Wuhan province, which has been completely blocked since January 23, lifted travel restrictions on April 8.
However, the risk of infections abroad appears to be on the rise, prompting more stringent screening and quarantine measures in major cities such as the capital Beijing.
Global interactive spread of graphical tracing of coronavirus: open in an external browser – here
Additional reports by Emma Farge, Stephanie Nebehay, Karolos Grohmann, Leika Kihara, Sakura Murakami, Lusha Zhang and Huizhong Wu; Written by Nick Macfie; Editing by Jon Boyle and Angus MacSwan