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Fresh virus cluster in China raises fears for pandemic control

Lockdowns were imposed in parts of Beijing on Saturday to try and prevent the spread of a new coronavirus cluster, highlighting the challenges that lie ahead even for places where outbreaks are under control.

June 13, 2020

/ by APP
Fresh virus cluster in China raises fears for pandemic control ...

Beijing, June 13: Lockdowns were imposed in parts of Beijing on Saturday to try and prevent the spread of a new coronavirus cluster, highlighting the challenges that lie ahead even for places where outbreaks are under control.
                  
It came as Brazil claimed the unenviable position of having the second-highest virus death toll worldwide behind the United States, with no sign the infection rate is slowing in Latin America.
                  
After COVID-19 was first detected in central China last year, the vast Asian country largely eliminated transmission within its borders through hyper-strict lockdowns that were emulated across the globe.
                  
But as the government reported six new domestic cases, most linked to a meat market in southern Beijing, people were forced indoors at several nearby residential estates -- marking a painful step backwards in the city's return to normality.
                  
Officials said the district has established a "wartime mechanism" and "field command centre" to deal with the fresh outbreak, as paramilitary police were seen around the market hotspot and a mass testing campaign linked to the cluster was announced.
                  
Worldwide, the pandemic has killed more than 425,000 people and infected more than 7.6 million, while wreaking large-scale economic devastation.
                  
Latin America has emerged as the latest epicentre of the respiratory disease, believed to have jumped from an animal to humans at a Chinese market that sold wildlife.
                  
Brazil's health ministry recorded 909 deaths in the past 24 hours, putting the total at 41,828 -- meaning the country of 212 million people has now surpassed Britain's death toll.
                  
"Some areas are at a critical stage" in Brazil, with intensive care unit occupancy levels of more than 90 percent, World Health Organization emergencies director Mike Ryan told journalists in Geneva.
                  
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who threatened last week to quit the WHO over "ideological bias", has dismissed the virus as a "little flu", and berated state officials for imposing lockdowns.


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