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Countries Tighten Measures as Global Virus Death Toll Nears 700,000

Countries Tighten Measures as Global Virus Death Toll Nears 700,000

Wednesday, 5 August, 2020 - 06:15
The reimposition of quarantine measures in the Philippines at short notice left many workers stranded | AFP

France and the Netherlands are gearing up for stricter mask-wearing rules to fight the coronavirus as the global death toll from the pandemic neared 700,000.


Paris, Toulouse and other cities announced that the wearing of masks would be compulsory in particularly busy streets and squares. People already have to wear them inside most private businesses and all public buildings.


A scientific committee advising the French government warned that the country could lose control of its spread "at any time."


In the Netherlands, the same mask-wearing measure will be applied in Rotterdam and the famous red-light district of Amsterdam from Wednesday.


And Ireland postponed the reopening of pubs and other nightspots on the advice of scientists, concerned about rising infections.


In other developments, the Philippines placed millions of people back under lockdown. And the hunt for an effective treatment continued with the United States launching trials of an antibody treatment for COVID-19.


- Philippines resumes lockdown -


Millions of people in the Philippines were ordered to stay home Tuesday in a bid to contain the rising rate of infections, and relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals.


More than 27 million people on the main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, went back into a partial lockdown.


People have been told to stay home unless going out to buy essential goods, for exercise or for work, after the number of recorded infections surged past 100,000.


But with only 24 hours' notice of the shutdown, many people were stranded in Manila, unable to get back to their hometowns after public transport and domestic flights were halted.


More than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year.


The worst hit country, the United States, had added 1,300 new deaths as of Tuesday evening, bringing its toll to nearly 156,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The caseload grew by 53,847 to nearly 4.8 million, it said.


Far from slowing down, the latest figures show that the rate of infection is accelerating.


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