Spain, India crash by way of coronavirus milestones

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Coronavirus hits isolated Indian island tribe

Photo credit: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

Spain surpassed the landmark 500,000 coronavirus infections on Monday as India reopened some metro lines despite becoming the second most hit country in the world.

Spain had largely gained control of its outbreak by imposing one of the toughest lockdowns in the world, but infections have increased since the restrictions were fully lifted in late June.

The country was the first in Western Europe to hit the 500,000 mark – albeit with a far lower death rate and many more asymptomatic cases than at its previous peak in late March and early April.

"The situation is much more favorable, but we are still in an upward phase," said health official Fernando Simon.

However, the total number of cases in European countries is dwarfed by the 4.2 million confirmed infections in India.

Even so, economic imperative urged the South Asian nation to risk reopening transportation lines on Monday – metros have resumed operations in the capital, New Delhi, after a five-month shutdown, and 12 other cities have resumed operations as well on.

"In order for our lives to go on, we have to leave our homes … so this is a good government move," Commuter Deepak Kumar told AFP on the Delhi subway.

Passengers are required to wear masks, keep their distance and undergo temperature controls.

"Like guinea pigs"

India has overtaken Brazil and is the second hardest hit nation in the world after the US. The virus has caused nearly 890,000 deaths and more than 27 million infections worldwide.

While governments around the world have turned away from the idea of ​​blanket lockdowns, countries on every continent have experimented with targeted measures to combat spikes in infections.

England tampered with its overseas quarantine rules again on Monday, imposing restrictions on travelers from seven Greek islands popular with vacationers.

Morocco has locked Casablanca and closed schools the day they were due to reopen after a surge in cases in the city.

Officials said the virus risked overwhelming the country if not controlled, but some parents remained angry.

"You were on cloud nine when you returned to school tomorrow," one father wrote on Twitter. "How do you explain this to a six year old and an eight year old?"

In Spain, parents' anger flowed the other way and fears that schools would open too early and millions of students returning on Monday increased.

"Back to school is treated like an experiment, we're like guinea pigs," said Aroa Miranda, a 37-year-old mother of two.

France put seven more regions on the red list on Sunday after regularly recording daily infection rates between 7,000 and 9,000 – although the number fell dramatically on Monday.

Israel announced a "nightly shutdown" of 40 cities with the highest infection rates, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepting the measures were not ideal but said there was "no way to avoid them".

Olympic hope

The coronavirus fallout continues to rebound across the sports world. French footballer Kylian Mbappe is the youngest in a long line of footballers to test positive.

Many tennis players are also infected, and later this month got the organizers of the French Open to impose strict guidelines.

All players will "invariably" be accommodated in two designated hotels to reduce risk, said tournament director Guy Forget, who also said there will be far fewer spectators than originally planned.

In both tennis and soccer, calendars were torn to pieces by the virus, but the single biggest casualty was the Tokyo Olympics, due to take place this summer.

The Vice President of the International Olympic Committee, John Coates, gave a glimmer of hope on Monday, saying that regardless of the pandemic, the rescheduled games would take place next year.

"These will be the games that COVID conquered, the light at the end of the tunnel," Coates told AFP in an exclusive interview.

India is now the second most virus-hit country amid economic troubles

© 2020 AFP

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