Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India

Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
Migrant workers who have yet been unable to return to their home states in north India sit wearing masks at a town square during lockdown in Kochi, In the southern Indian state of Kerala, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. The number of coronavirus cases in India has surged past 100,000, with most of the cases being in major cities. But rural villages across India are also seeing an increase in cases with the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who left cities and towns where they were abandoned by their employers after having toiled for years building homes and roads. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

Coronavirus cases are spiking from India to South Africa and Mexico in a clear indication the pandemic is far from over, while Russia and Brazil now sit behind only the United States in the number of reported infections.

The surges come as much of Asia, Europe and scores of U.S. states have been easing lockdowns to restart their economies as new infections wane. U.S. autoworkers, French teachers and Thai mall workers are among hundreds of thousands of employees back at work with new safety precautions.

Russia reported a steady rise in new infections Tuesday, and new hot spots have emerged across the nation of about 147 million. Russia registered nearly 9,300 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to almost 300,000 infections, about half of them in Moscow. Authorities say over 2,800 people with COVID-19 have died in Russia, a figure some say is surely higher.

Some experts argue Russian authorities have been listing chronic illnesses as the cause of death for many who tested positive for the virus. Officials angrily deny manipulating statistics, saying Russia's low death toll reflects early preventive measures and broad screening. Nearly 7.4 million tests have been conducted.

In Russia's second-largest city of St. Petersburg, a virus hot spot, all burials now must be with closed coffins as a precaution, irrespective of the cause of death. Previously the measure applied only to COVID-19 deaths.

Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
A COVID-19 patient uses his phone as he is treated inside a non-invasive ventilation system named the "Vanessa Capsule" at the municipal field hospital Gilberto Novaes in Manaus, Brazil, Monday, May 18, 2020. The field hospital set up inside a school currently has nearly 150 beds and is operating near its limit as it treats patients both from the capital and from rural areas of Amazon state. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Russia's caseload is second only to that of the U.S., which has seen 1.5 million infections and over 90,000 deaths. The country's prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, resumed work Tuesday after a bout of coronavirus.

Cases are still rising across Africa, where all 54 nations have seen confirmed infections for a total of over 88,000 cases and 2,800 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa has the highest number of cases at over 16,400 and nearly 290 deaths. Infections have increased dramatically in Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province, which now accounts for 61% of South Africa's total.

Latin America has seen more than 480,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 31,000 dead. The highest number of cases is in Brazil, which became the world's third worst-hit county Monday with more than 250,000 infections despite limited testing. Hospital officials reported that more than 85% of intensive care beds are occupied in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
Museums personnel wearing face masks and respecting social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are framed by the head and the hand belonging to the bronze colossal statue of Constantine, of the fourth century A.D, in the Rome's Capitoline Museums, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. In Italy, museums were allowed to reopen this week for the first time since early March, but few were able to receive visitors immediately as management continued working to implement social distancing and hygiene measures, as well as reservation systems to stagger visits to museums in the onetime epicenter of the European pandemic. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Some countries have seen encouraging signs reverse: Iran reported a steady drop in new infections through April, only to see them rise again in May.

But there is new hope after an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus yielded encouraging results, though in a small and extremely early test. Stocks rallied Monday on the news.

In a surprise announcement, President Donald Trump said he has been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to protect against the virus even though scientists say there is no evidence of its effectiveness against the disease and his own administration has warned it should be administered only in a hospital or research setting because of potentially fatal side effects.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has declared that a partial economic shutdown imposed in late March helped slow the outbreak and prevented the nation's health care system from being overwhelmed. A week ago, he ended the nationwide lockdown.

Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
An employee of the Federal State Center for Special Risk Rescue Operations of Russia Emergency Situations disinfects a hall of Leningradsky railway station in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Russia has continued to see a steady rise of new infections, and new hot spots have emerged across the vast country of 147-million people that ranks the second in the world behind the United States in the number of coronavirus cases. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

He has given Russia's 85 regions a free hand to determine how they will ease their own lockdowns, but some have been struggling. The mostly Muslim southern province of Dagestan has reported a spike in infections that left its hospitals overflowing.

In India, cases surged past 100,000, and infections are rising in the home states of migrant workers who fled cities and towns during a nationwide lockdown when they lost their jobs.

India is now seeing more than 4,000 new cases daily. States including West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Gujarat, the major contributors of India's migrant labor, are showing major spikes in infections as the country's lockdown rules have eased. More than 3,100 with COVID-19 have died, according to India's Health Ministry.

And in densely populated Bangladesh, where authorities reported a record number of new positive tests at over 1,600, thousands of cars were on the streets of the capital, Dhaka, despite a lockdown. Authorities have relaxed some rules and allowed shops to open ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
A child smilies through clear plastic dividers at a food court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Thai government continue to ease restrictions related to running business in capital Bangkok that were imposed weeks ago to combat the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

In Latin America, intensive care units in the Chilean capital of Santiago have been beyond 90% capacity for days, and officials warned that intensive care staff members are reaching their limits.

"They can't keep going forever, no matter how many beds or ventilators there are,'' said Claudio Castillo, a professor of public policy and health at the University of Santiago.

Infections are also increasing in poor areas of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where authorities relaxed strict lockdown measures last week, allowing some businesses to open and children to walk outside on weekends.

Colombia struggled with an outbreak in Leticia, a city on the border with Brazil, where hospitals were overwhelmed and patients were being sent to commandeered hotels. Colombia has recorded about 16,300 confirmed cases and close to 600 dead.

  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Teachers check dividers on desks in a class ahead of school reopening at Junghwa Girls High School in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. South Korean Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip urged vigilance to maintain hard-won gains against the virus and called for education officials to double check preventive measures with high-school seniors returning to school on Wednesday. (Kim Hyun-tae/Yonhap via AP)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Commuters wearing face masks to protect against the new coronavirus walk across an intersection in the central business district in Beijing, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. China reported six new cases Tuesday, a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his country would provide $2 billion to help respond to the outbreak and its economic fallout. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Ridley Goodside wears a rubber diving head covering along with goggles and a special air filtration mask to protect himself from the spread of coronavirus as he sits in a designated circle marked on the grass at Brooklyn's Domino Park during the current coronavirus outbreak, Monday, May 18, 2020, in New York. The circles were added after the park became severely overcrowded during a spate of unseasonably warm weather just over a week ago. Goodside said he's been protecting himself since he first heard about the virus much earlier this year. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Visitors wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus tour Bangkok Art and Culture Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Thai authorities allowed Arts center and other businesses to reopen selectively easing restrictions against the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Daniel Bolling works out at the Downtown Gym, Monday, May 18, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. Fitness centers were allowed to reopen in parts of Florida today and restaurants could open at 50 percent capacity. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    A woman passes a clothing shop in London as the country is in lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. It is expected that some non-essential retailers will be able to begin reopening next month whilst following new measures such as social distancing and limiting the number of people allowed in a shop at one time. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Two guests sit in front of a restaurant with distance in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. The Austrian government has moved to restrict freedom of movement for people, in an effort to slow the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Families sunbathe and relax at a Lido in London, Tuesday, May 19, 2020 during warm and sunny weather, after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    A woman wearing a face mask to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus walks along the Han River at a park in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
  • Global worries as infections spike in Russia, Brazil, India
    Turkish honour guard soldiers wearing face masks for protection against the new coronavirus, walk during a ceremony at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. This year's limited ceremony is marking the 101st anniversary of the start of Turkey's War of Independence under the leadership of the young Ottoman army general. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

In Europe and in the United States, which has seen 36 million Americans file for unemployment, economic concerns dominated the political landscape.

Unemployment claims in Britain jumped 69% in April, the government reported Tuesday. European car sales collapsed by an unprecedented 76% last month.

An experimental vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. triggered hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers. They were found to have antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Much bigger studies on the vaccine's safety and effectiveness are planned. Worldwide, about a dozen vaccine candidates are in or near the first stages of testing.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide have been infected and over 318,000 deaths have been recorded, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts believe is too low for several reasons.

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