Coronavirus update: Once a COVID-19 epicentre New York City successfully contains virus as it reopens

New York City, once an epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, has managed to contain the virus as it reopens, but faces risks of an uptick in cases in the fall, public health experts said.

Meanwhile, India has reported almost 70,000 new cases in the past 24 hours taking the total to 2.91 million, the third worst in the world after the United States and Brazil.

This story will be updated throughout Saturday.

Saturday’s key moments:

New York City ahead of curve on COVID-19

New York City, once an epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, has managed to contain the virus as it reopened, but could face risks of an uptick in cases in Autumn, public health experts said.

The city’s success comes from a mix of high rates of compliance with local and federal public health guidance and also substantial immunity among the general population, a result of the severity of the outbreak in March and April.

“There was an alignment in New York with the State Government, the healthcare system and the media on what to do — namely, lock everything down,” Chief quality officer at Northwell Health, Mark Jarrett said.

“That contrasts with other parts of the country, where political opposition to mask wearing and lockdowns is more widespread,” Mr Jarrett added.

However, experts say New York is at risk for an uptick in cases as schools reopen and cold weather pushes more people indoors.

“The big challenge is schools reopening, recreating that density anew,” which had been reduced by social distancing, said Troy Tassier, a professor of economics at Fordham University who specialises in epidemiology.

After peaking in early April at a seven day average of more than 5,000 cases per day, New York City has reduced its daily case count to an average of less than 200, according to city data.

Lebanon enforces new partial lockdown in effort to curb COVID-19

Lebanon has imposed a partial lockdown for two weeks in an effort to counter COVID-19 infections which have spiralled since the catastrophic explosion at Beirut port.

The spread of COVID-19 has compounded the woes of a country still reeling from the August 4 blast that killed at least 179 people and wounded some 6,000, and a financial meltdown that has devastated the economy since October.

“In this area those who escaped death have relatives who are wounded, there are no homes or cars, frankly we have forgotten corona,” said Nabil Nahed, 50, a public sector employee whose house in the Gemmayzeh area was badly damaged in the blast.

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COVID-19 infections have spread in the aftermath of the Beirut blast as hospitals were flooded with the casualties.

“We have to take precautions as much as we can because in the last two weeks everyone has been mixing, and corona certainly increased,” he said.

Lebanon recorded its highest 24-hour tally of new infections on Thursday, with 613 new cases. The infections have spread in the aftermath of the blast as hospitals were flooded with the casualties.

“Before the explosion, the total cases were 5,000-6,000, now we are approaching 10,000 and above,” Iman Shankiti, the World Health Organization representative in Lebanon, told Voice of Lebanon radio.

“In the last two weeks, the total is equal to everything from February to the day of the explosion.”

The shutdown, which includes a curfew from 6pm to 6am, allows for clearing rubble, making repairs and giving out aid in neighbourhoods demolished by the explosion.

The airport will remain open, with travellers having to take a PCR test before boarding and on arrival.

India COVID-19 cases near 3 million as Mumbai festival approaches

India has reported 68,898 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours — the third straight daily increase above 60,000 — taking the total to 2.91 million, the third worst in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Deaths increased by 983 to 54,849.

Cases have plateaued in Mumbai, which now averages 1,000 a day and has recorded more than 120,000 in total, but strict Government regulations have meant that the festival season, which begins this month, has been lacklustre.

“People are buying cheaper idols and cutting down their budgets because there have been pay cuts and job losses. Last year, I sold all the idols in my shop — this year I will sell half of that,” idol-maker Nandkumar Patil said.

India imposed a strict lockdown in March, at the beginning of the outbreak, and in several cities like Mumbai, public transport, malls and theatres remain shut.

Spain seeks to shut brothels to curb coronavirus contagion

Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero has asked regions to order the closure of brothels in a bid to prevent new coronavirus outbreaks, a week after the Government shut most nightlife establishments and imposed various other restrictions.

The ministry sent a letter asking “regions to specifically act on places where prostitution is exercised, like brothels”, she told radio station RNE.

Brothels operate in a legal grey area in Spain, which makes regulating their activities tricky, a ministry spokesman said.

Two men in navy suits wheel a wooden coffin away from a black hearse parked in a line with others.
Spain is grappling with one of Europe’s most severe coronavirus epidemics, with more than 377,000 total cases and nearly 29,000 deaths,(Reuters: Juan Medina)

Prostitution is tolerated in Spain while sexual exploitation and pimping are illegal. Many brothels operate in the country as hotels or other lodging establishments.

With more than 377,000 total cases and nearly 29,000 deaths, Spain is grappling with one of Europe’s most severe coronavirus epidemics, marked by a recent new increase in infections.

Nightlife venues and informal parties have been linked to several clusters of infection since Spain emerged from a strict lockdown at the end of June.

At least one cluster had been linked to prostitution, according to the equality ministry.

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