Numbers soar globally as COVID-19 spreads


Audrey Korte

Students participate in a parade of flags at the Taste of Africa event, sponsored by the African Student Association, in November. Confirmed COVID-19 cases hit 1,000 on the continent over the weekend. Only 11 African nations have zero cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday afternoon.

A global pandemic isn’t something most people thought they would see in their lifetime, but the world won’t soon forget the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 moves across borders, respecting no authority or human-made boundary. 

America has taken a hit that’s surprised many overseas who believed the U.S. had the funds and medical capabilities to wipe this out. But, like Italy, America has recognized that this coronavirus, like all disease, doesn’t discriminate. 

The virus has recently arrived in South America and Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been preparing African countries for this for a few weeks at least. Time will tell if that’s enough to prevent a continental catastrophe.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 soared over the weekend with 177 countries reporting. Cases now top 311,000 worldwide. Globally, deaths exceeded 13,000 on Sunday, according to Al Jazeera.

WHO announced last week that Europe had become the new epicenter of the outbreak. Deaths surpassed 6,000 in Europe this weekend.  

The total number of deaths in Italy has now reached 4,825. Spain’s death toll has also increased to more than 1,300. In England, the death toll jumped up by 53 to 220 in total. Poland had to shut down and evacuate one of its leading hospitals on Saturday when 30 patients and staffers were found to be infected.

Sunday afternoon, Germany reported its Chancellor Angela Merkel has quarantined after a doctor who gave her a vaccine tested positive for the coronavirus, her spokesperson said.

In Iran, the number of deaths hit 1,500 as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year.

At a news conference Thursday morning, China’s National Health Commission officials announced no new cases of the virus, saying it had just 34 cases in the past 24 hours. Still, all were imported from overseas, indicating the in-country spread was under control. China reported 46 new confirmed cases and six more deaths Saturday.

Turkey imposed a curfew on the elderly and chronically ill citizens. Qatar banned gatherings, and closed parks and beaches. India started a 14-hour curfew. Sao Paulo is going on lockdown for two weeks, and Bolivia suspended its presidential election.

Australia reports 1,071 cases but only seven deaths.

Coronavirus is just getting its hooks in South America and Africa. Reuters reported that Ecuador’s health and labor ministers resigned Saturday, hours after officials confirmed the country’s 500th case.

Brazil now has 1,178 cases and 18 deaths. 

In Africa, coronavirus cases rose to more than 1,000, and Nigeria, which has the continent’s most populated city, announced the closing of airports to all incoming international flights for one month on Saturday.

Uganda, Eritrea, and Angola have all announced their first cases, meaning 43 of Africa’s 54 countries are now affected. South Africa reports 240 cases. Rwanda, with just 17 cases, told all public and private employees to work from home.

Amid widespread rumors and post-Ebola panic, Sierra Leone officials arrested three Japanese travelers when they arrived at the airport for fear of the virus. 

Meanwhile, two African heads of state appeared to defy their travel restrictions by attending another president’s inauguration, the A.P. reported Saturday.

Governments around the world have announced massive amounts of fiscal stimuli in the last week, which aim to limit the severity of a sharp recession as the pandemic shuts down country after country. Morgan Stanley said spending commitments from the United States, Europe, Japan, the United Kingdom, and China add up to at least $1.7 trillion — so far.  


Strained relations with Iran don’t improve during global pandemic

The United States made an offer to longtime foe, Iran, recently to aid the efforts to defeat the virus there. The Middle Eastern country most affected by the coronavirus confirmed 1,685 deaths and 21,638 people infected, according to Reuters. 

The U.S. offer to help Iran is strange, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Sunday, describing U.S. leaders as “charlatans and liars.”

Iranian police said millions defied travel warnings aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, Reuters reports. Still, Iranian authorities blame U.S. sanctions for affecting the country’s ability to fight the outbreak. 

President Hassan Rouhani urged Americans to ask the government to lift sanctions on Iran while it combats the virus. China also urged the U.S. to lift sanctions on Iran immediately.

Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced further sanctions on Iran Wednesday, citing the recent rocket attacks in Taji, Iraq, that killed two U.S. service members. The sanctions target “nine entities and three inviduals” mostly from Iran’s petrochemical industry that “provide revenue to the regime that it may use to fund terror and other destabilizing activities,” Pompeo said in a statement. 

And President Donald Trump made his position clear last week. Lifting sanctions on Iran is a firm no. Pompeo told reporters this weekend that there are no sanctions on humanitarian aid. 

Sunday afternoon, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing.

“There’s never been a thing like this in the history of the world,” Trump said. “And other nations are doing similar things — some effectively, some not effectively. They’re doing similar things.”

Whether or not that’s true, the fact remains that the global outbreak will have rippling effects on all sectors of the planet.