Public losing faith in govts, says survey, as virus cases surge
by AFP bureaus
A survey released Saturday showed governments are fast losing support for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as health officials recorded a surge of more than 280,000 new cases globally two days in a row.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, widely criticised for his handling of the crisis there, appeared to credit an unproven treatment for his recovery from the virus.
And in the streets of Jerusalem and other cities, thousands called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign, in part for his management of the coronavirus crisis.
There were more than 280,000 new cases recorded globally on both Thursday and Friday, the highest daily rises since the virus emerged in China late last year, according to an AFP count based on official sources — an alarming uptick in the spread of the virus.
Nearly a third of the world’s 15.8 million infections have been registered since July 1, while the total death toll nears 640,000.
The World Health Organization said more than a million cases had been recorded in each of the last five weeks, “with over 280,000 being reported on July 24 alone”.
“While no country is unaffected, this rise is driven by high transmission in large and populous countries in the Americas and South Asia,” it said in a statement on Saturday.
Brazil and India had recently reported their highest daily increases, it added, while the figures remained worryingly high in the United States and South Africa — where Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel tested positive for the virus Saturday.
The US, still the hardest-hit nation, on Friday reported its second straight day of more than 70,000 new cases and over 1,000 deaths as the virus surges in the south and west.
– Bolsonaro tests negative –
As governments worldwide struggle to contain the virus despite long and economically crippling lockdowns imposed on millions of people, a new survey suggested that faith in authorities is dwindling in six rich nations.
Populations in France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Sweden and the US widely believed death and infection figures to be higher than recorded, according to the study, which polled 1,000 people in each nation.
“In most countries this month, support for national governments is falling,” said the report by the Kekst CNC communications consultancy.
One world leader widely criticised over his handling of the pandemic is Brazil’s Bolsonaro, who was diagnosed with coronavirus on July 7.
Bolsonaro, who has downplayed what he calls “a little flu”, announced on Twitter Saturday that he had finally tested negative.
In an photo accompanying the statement, he was pictured holding a packet of hydroxychloroquine, whose effectiveness against COVID-19 has not been demonstrated in clinical trials.
Brazil’s biggest city Sao Paulo on Saturday said it was indefinitely postponing its 2021 carnival. Hours later, Rio de Janeiro cancelled its New Year’s Eve festivities.
Thousands of Israelis protested Saturday in Jerusalem and other cities including Tel Aviv, demanding Netanyahu’s resignation over his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
They were also objecting to a new law that gives the government special powers to fight the spread of the virus until the end of 2021.
– Fresh clusters –
Fresh clusters, meanwhile, were emerging across Asia.
South Korea on Saturday reported its highest infections figure in nearly four months, while Vietnam recorded its first locally transmitted case in nearly 100 days.
Officials in China said they would introduce fresh measures and testing in the port city of Dalian, home to about six million people, after detecting fresh infections thee.
That did not prevent the Chinese Super League kicking off behind closed doors on Saturday. Players of Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the pandemic.
Europe remains the hardest-hit continent, accounting for a fifth of the world’s case count.
Belgium said Saturday it could further tighten its restrictions following the death of a three-year-old girl, the country’s youngest victim of the virus.
Recent outbreaks in the Spanish regions of Aragon and Catalonia have led to fresh curbs on daily life.
Many tourists were nevertheless reluctant to cancel their plans.
“If we cancelled our holiday, which has been planned since February, we would lose the rental money,” said Fanny Lievens, on route with her family to Catalonia from the southern French city of Montpellier.
In France, where infections have been rising, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on-the-spot testing for travellers arriving from 16 high-risk nations.
But he told Nice Matin newspaper he wanted above all else to avoid returning to a full lockdown because of the economic damage it did — and the psychological harm that many people suffered.
Britain meanwhile has made it compulsory to wear a face covering in shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, sandwich shops and supermarkets.
And it announced Saturday it was reimposing two weeks of self-isolation on travellers arriving from Spain after a surge in cases there.