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Coronavirus lockdowns loom worldwide with upticks in new circumstances


LONDON — The number of coronavirus cases is shooting up around the globe, including in countries lauded for containing the spread, threatening another round of lockdowns.

More than 22.1 million people have been infected and 781,366 killed worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Germany saw its highest jump in new cases since May 1 on Tuesday with 1,510 confirmed infections, according to the country’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute. One of the factors contributing to the uptick is an “increasing number of cases among travel returnees,” the institute said.

Although the rise is cause for concern in the country that has been viewed as a leader in controlling the spread, the numbers are far lower than the peak in April when more than 6,000 new infections were recorded daily.

A total of 226,914 have been infected in Germany, while 9,243 have died.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t say stricter lockdown measures were necessary while visiting the state of North-Rhine Westphalia on Tuesday, but added that easing current restrictions wouldn’t an option as cases rise.

The growth may be high among European countries, but it pales in comparison to the spread in the United States.

Image: South Korean police officers wait in line to take tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s maneuver headquarters in Seoul (Jung Yeon-je / AFP – Getty Images)

The U.S. continues to lead the world with 5.5 million cases and 172,783 deaths, according to NBC News tracking. It’s followed by Brazil, which has reported more than 3.4 million cases and over 109,000 deaths.

South Korea, which has long contrasted hard-hit countries with robust tracing efforts, is seeing its caseload rise yet again.

For a straight week, the country has seen daily three-digit increases in cases with 306 confirmed infections on Wednesday, the country’s disease control center reported.

“We are at a serious crossroad for COVID-19 quarantine measures,” said Kwon Jun Wook, deputy director-general of the disease control center, in a briefing.

“If we fail to control the infection spreading … then our daily life will be severely restricted and dampen our livelihood and create major social and economic issues for the entire nation,” Kwon said.

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Image: Jeepney passengers seated in between plastic barriers, wear face masks and face shields mandatory in public transportation, to help curb coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, (Eloisa Lopez / Reuters)

Stricter measures for social distancing have been imposed for the city Incheon and surrounding area as well as the capital Seoul where infections traced to churches continue to rise.

The country’s deputy health minister Kim Gang Lip said contact tracing would also be ramped up to prevent the spread largely tied to urban centers from entering rural communities.

Cases are also shooting up in the island nations of the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Philippines is the hardest-hit for any Southeast Asian country with its total confirmed cases reaching 173,774 on Wednesday as 4,650 new cases were confirmed. At least 2,795 have died.

Despite the rising infections, the government relaxed a strict lockdown in the capital Manila and nearby provinces on Wednesday to allow more business establishments to resume operations.

Indonesia’s health ministry reported another 1,902 cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 144,945. Another 69 people were killed, bringing its death toll to 6,346.

Strict lockdowns featuring roadside checkpoints monitored by the military are well underway in Australia, where cases rose by 216 on Tuesday.

The Australian state of Victoria declared a state of disaster on Aug. 2 and extended its lockdown for another four weeks on Sunday as officials scramble to halt the virus.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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