NEW DELHI (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic accelerated across Latin America, Russia and the Indian subcontinent on Friday even as curves flattened and reopening was underway in much of Europe, Asia and the United States.
Many governments say they have to shift their focus to saving jobs that are vanishing as quickly as the virus can spread. In the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, unemployment is soaring.
The Federal Reserve chairman has estimated that up to one American in four could be jobless, while in China analysts estimate around a third of the urban workforce is unemployed.
But the virus is roaring through countries ill-equipped to handle the pandemic, which many scientists fear will seed the embers of a second global wave.
India saw its biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began, and Pakistan and Russia recorded their highest death tolls. Most new Indian cases are in Bihar, where thousands returned home from jobs in the cities. For over a month, some walked among crowds for hundreds of miles.
Latin America’s two most populous nations — Mexico and Brazil — have reported record counts of new cases and deaths almost daily this week, fueling criticism of their presidents, who have slow-walked shutdowns in attempts to limit economic damage.
Cases were rising and intensive-care units were also swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador — countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines.
Brazil reported more than 20,000 deaths and 300,000 confirmed cases Thursday night — the third worst-hit country in the world by official counts. Experts consider both numbers undercounts due to widespread lack of testing.
President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the seriousness of the virus and actively campaigned against state governors’ attempts to limit movement and commerce.
Mexico is now reporting more than 400 deaths a day, and new infections still haven’t peaked.
Russian health officials registered 150 deaths in 24 hours, for a total of 3,249. The total confirmed number of cases exceeded 326,000 on Friday.
China announced it would give local governments 2 trillion yuan ($280 billion) to help undo the damage from shutdowns imposed to curb the spread of the virus that first appeared in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has now infected at least 5.1 million people worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.