Testing stepped up as number of new COVID-19 cases surges

NEW DELHI (AP) – Governments were stepped up testing yesterday as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases surges in many countries.

India reported 20,000 new cases yesterday, while the United States (US) confirmed more than 40,000 new infections for the third straight day.

As infections rise along with summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere, many governments are stepping up testing and mulling more aggressive moves such as renewed lockdowns to stem fresh outbreaks. India’s 20,000 new infections was a new daily record.

Several states reimposed partial or full lockdowns after the total number of cases jumped by nearly 100,000 in one week to 548,318.

While some states have tightened precautions, in the worst-affected regions of Maharashtra, which includes India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and Delhi, home to the federal capital of New Delhi, most restrictions have been eased, with restaurants, shopping malls and parks reopened, and public buses and shared-ride services back on the roads.

An Indian health worker wearing personal protective equipment checks a woman’s temperature at a slum in Mumbai, India. PHOTO: AP

The US, the worst affected country, reported 42,600 newly confirmed infections as of Saturday, with the total surpassing 2.5 million, or about a quarter of all of the more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Experts said the actual numbers, both in the US and globally, are likely far higher due to the large number of apparently asymptomatic cases and issues with testing. Beaches were closing as Florida, Texas and other states backpedaled on their pandemic reopenings, ordering mandatory use of masks in public places and closing down restaurants in hopes of stemming a resurgence in cases.

Nearly 8.3 million people out of some 21 million have undergone testing in recent weeks in the Chinese capital after an outbreak centred on a wholesale market.

The country had 12 new cases yesterday, including seven in Beijing, down by more than half from the day before, the National Health Commission reported.

South Korean authorities reported 47 new cases as they struggled to curb outbreaks that have spread from Seoul to other regions.

Widespread testing and contact tracing helped contain South Korea’s initial outbreak in which it was finding hundreds of new cases a day in late February and early March.

Most of those cases were in the area surrounding city of Daegu, where many were linked to a single church congregation with thousands of members.