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Coronavirus world updates: USA political standoff brewing; countries slowly reopen amid economic concerns; lockdowns extended as death tolls rise

By June 22, 2020 4 Comments
A political battle is looming in the United States between President Donald Trump and state governors over plans to reopen their economies despite coronavirus safety concerns.
Meanwhile, in countries around the world where COVID-19 appears to be stabilising, the reopening process is underway as certain businesses and industries began to operate in a bid to balance public health with avoiding a catastrophic economic fallout.
The figures understate the true size of the pandemic, because of limited testing, uneven counting of the dead and concealment by some governments.
READ MORE: Global pandemic ‘certainly’ not peaked: World Health Organisation
A Brazilian soldier in protective gear wipes his mask with a sponge during a media presentation of the military’s preparations to fight against the new coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)(AP/AAP)

The United States

Setting the stage for a possible power struggle with Trump, governors around the US are collaborating on plans to reopen their economies in what is likely to be a drawn-out, step-by-step process to prevent the coronavirus from rebounding with disastrous results.

While the crisis is far from over, with more than 23,000 dead and about 600,000 confirmed infections nationwide, the doomsday scenarios that many were predicting two weeks ago have not come to pass, raising hopes from coast to coast.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has joined a coalition with his West Coast counterparts in Oregon and Washington, said he would announce a detailed plan Tuesday for lifting virus restrictions, using “science to guide our decision-making and not political pressure.”
READ MORE: Keep up to date with 9News’ latest coronavirus coverage
President Donald Trump looks at his notes during a meeting with people that have recovered from COVID-19 in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(AP/AAP)
A similar coalition has taken shape in the Northeast, encompassing Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
“The house is still on fire,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said.
“We still have to put the fire out” but also “make sure this doesn’t reignite.”
Trump, who has repeatedly expressed his desire to see the country reopened for business quickly, and at one point said he would like to see churches packed on Easter, insisted on Monday that he has “total” authority to decide how and when to loosen restrictions in the country.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state has by far been America’s hardest hit, ridiculed Trump’s assertion, saying: “We don’t have a king in this country.”
A face-off is looming between Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said he would defy any order to reopen the state if it was unsafe.(AAP)
While the president has issued national social-distancing guidelines advising people stay home, it has been governors and local leaders who have instituted the tough, mandatory restrictions, such as lockdowns and the closing of schools and nonessential businesses.
Cuomo overnight reported 778 deaths over the previous 24 hours but said fatalities are leveling off, and hospitalisations and the number of new patients put on ventilators are continuing to drop, showing that social distancing is working.
Adding a dose of caution from the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, told The Associated Press that the US does not yet have the testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the economy.
A worker wearing a protective suit packs face masks at a factory in Eshtehard, 114 kilometres west of the capital Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)(AP/AAP)
“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci said.
Any easing off the social-distancing rules would have to occur on a “rolling” basis, not all at once, he said, reflecting the ways COVID-19 struck different parts of the country at different times.

Europe

New infections appear to have leveled off in much of Asia and Europe, including Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
In parts of Italy, which has seen more than 21,000 deaths but on Tuesday reported the smallest number of new infections in a month, bookstores, stationery stores and shops selling baby supplies were allowed to open.
A girl wears a mask to help protect herself from the new coronavirus jogs as the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea coastline in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)(AP/AAP)
Forestry workers, needed to clear dead trees ahead of the summer fire season, also went back to work.
Meanwhile in Spain – which has a death toll of more than 18,000 – workers returned to some factory and construction jobs this week, while stores and offices remained closed.
Hardware and gardening stores reopened in Austria, but Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he stands ready to “pull the emergency brake” if infections make a resurgence.
In Britain, with a death toll put at over 12,000, new data showed that the true number is hundreds of victims higher.
A worker cleans and disinfects a makeshift room inside a convention centre converted into a COVID-19 isolation facility in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines.(Getty)
Health authorities overnight announced the UK’s coronavirus death toll rose by 778 fatalities in the past 24 hours.
The figure takes the UK’s COVID-19 toll to 12,107, while an increase of 5252 new confirmed positive cases means that at least 93,873 people have now contracted the strain since the pandemic began.
The country has now entered its fourth week of a nationwide lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, with the country’s government expected to extend the measures this week.
Belarusian healthcare workers wearing face masks and costumes to protect from coronavirus carry a patient in wheelchair outside a hospital in Minsk, Belarus. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)(AP/AAP)
In France, the death toll has risen to 15,729 as the spreading of the coronavirus in the country appears to be stabilising.
National health agency chief Jerome Salomon says France registered 762 deaths over the past 24 hours in hospitals and nursing homes.

Worldwide

The effects of measures to reopen nations around the globe have been made plain by the International Monetary Fund, which projected that the world economy will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression in the 1930s, shrinking by an estimated three per cent this year.
Meanwhile, some experts say countries need to train thousands of workers in contact tracing.
Elderly people wear face masks while waiting in line to get inside a shop in Bucharest, Romania.(AP/AAP)
Contact-tracing smartphone apps are now under consideration in some places in the US and Europe — technology that has been used in other parts of the world but has raised privacy concerns in the West.
Apple and Google, for example, are working together to develop smartphone technology that alerts people if they crossed paths with someone later found to be infected.
In other developments, India also extended the world’s largest lockdown on its 1.3 billion people until May 3, and police with batons charged hundreds of jobless migrant workers who crowded a Mumbai railroad station to demand that special trains be run to take them to their home villages.
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