Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

More than 5 Million Coronavirus Infections Registered Worldwide

More than 5 Million Coronavirus Infections Registered Worldwide

Thursday, 21 May, 2020 - 11:00
Health workers carry a patient with symptoms of the new COVID-19 coronavirus from an ambulance into a hospital in Santiago. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat

Global infections from the novel coronavirus topped five million on Thursday while China eager to declare a victory, Europe tentatively emerging from its shell and deaths still rising in hotspots in Latin America.

The grim milestone is still only a fraction of the true number of infections from a virus that has claimed more than 328,000 lives in its whirl around the globe, according to AFP tally of official sources.

US President Donald Trump has promoted the use of anti-malaria drugs against the virus despite studies showing they have no benefit and could have dangerous side effects.

Trump, for his part, insists the US is "Transitioning back to Greatness" as states reopen at different paces.

While daily death tolls are no longer on a steady rise, the losses are still punishing with more than 1,500 additional fatalities reported in 24 hours on Wednesday, bringing to the total number in the US to more than 93,400.

Beijing tells a different story, with President Xi Jinping determined to project a success story over the outbreak that started on his country's soil late last year before wreaking havoc around the globe.

In a new sign of normalisation, on Thursday China opened its biggest political event of the year -- the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) -- after months of delay over coronavirus fears.

Analysts say the gathering will be a chance for the party to reaffirm its narrative of beating the virus and coming to the aid of other countries with masks and other medical shipments.

It "will likely be an occasion for Xi Jinping to declare complete victory in the 'people's war' over the virus," Diana Fu, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, told AFP.

- Vaccine race -

As governments pray for an end to the economic strangulation from shutdowns, the race to develop a vaccine has been buoyed by experiments on monkeys that offered hope that humans can develop immunity to the virus.

Researchers reported progress from one study that looked at a prototype vaccine, and another on whether infection with COVID-19 confers protection against re-exposure.

And the US pumped an additional $1 billion (0.9 billion euros) into the British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca to help fund the production of a vaccine.

While a full return to normal life will be pegged to the development of a treatment or vaccine, many countries are testing ways to live with the dangers in the meantime.

Once the epicentre of the pandemic, much of Europe is now gradually rolling back its restrictions on public life after the number of new cases and deaths has been on a steady decline.

The eurozone's economic slump caused by lockdowns has "likely bottomed out", with the rate of decline now easing as economies creak open, a closely watched survey by IHS Markit said.

Editor Picks