The United States reported record new
coronavirus cases for the third day in a row, as Joe Biden vowed to act
against the pandemic on “day one” if he wins the presidential election in the
world’s worst-hit nation.
Global infections have surged past 49 million and Europe has become the
new pandemic epicenter in recent weeks, with more than 300,000 deaths —
nearly a quarter of the global total.
More than 127,000 new infections were reported in the US on Friday, the
third straight day of record cases, as votes from the bitterly fought
presidential election were still being counted.
No winner has been declared but Biden promised late Friday that he would
not waste any time in addressing the pandemic if he is victorious.
“I want everyone, everyone to know on day one we’re going to put our plan
to control this virus into action,” the Democrat said.
The infection figures came as President Donald Trump, who survived a bout
of Covid-19 in October and has been widely criticized over his handling of
the crisis, trailed his Democratic challenger in the ongoing vote count.
US cases are fast approaching 10 million, with more than 236,000 deaths,
and the pandemic has hammered the world’s biggest economy, leaving millions
Trump has been a vocal opponent of lockdown measures, citing their impact
on the economy, and has repeatedly clashed with his own government’s experts
over coronavirus policy.
Unlike Biden, Trump held massive campaign rallies ahead of the November 3
vote, and had insisted that the US was “rounding the turn” on the virus
despite the surges.
Several senior members of his administration have contracted the virus in
recent weeks, with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows the latest to test
positive, US media said late Friday.
The pandemic has been cited as one of the factors for the delay in US
election results, with state authorities deluged with millions of ballots
mailed by citizens not willing to risk infection by voting in person.
– ‘More distrust’
Across the Atlantic, Greece became the latest European nation to enter
lockdown Saturday with the continent reeling from a second, relentless
Under the measures, which came into force at 6 am (0400 GMT), Greeks can
only leave their homes if they make an official request via mobile phone and
then receive authorization. Only “essential shops” including supermarkets and
pharmacies can stay open. The measures follow the imposition of restrictions
in Italy, France, Ireland and Britain, while Switzerland is also being hit
hard by the virus.
Poland will also impose fresh measures Saturday, closing most stores in
shopping centers, with some exceptions such as grocery stores, pharmacies and
hair salons. The government is also closing cinemas, theatres, galleries and
other cultural institutions and making hotels available for business
Governments are also exploring mass testing as a way to curb the pandemic.
In England, Liverpool on Friday began the country’s first city-wide
coronavirus testing program. All 500,000 residents will be offered repeat
tests, even if asymptomatic, under a pilot scheme that could be rolled out
nationwide if successful.
With populations growing increasingly weary of lockdowns, protests have
broken out in some countries. Demonstrators and the police have clashed in
parts of Italy and the Czech Republic in recent weeks.
Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo — the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus
crisis earlier this year — said “there is more tiredness and more distrust
around” than during the first lockdown, after people protested outside his
Ahead of the Greece lockdown, people rushed to get a haircut even though
hairdressers and salons are allowed to open for two more days.
Athens hairdresser Apostolos Gelbas said he was struggling to find the
time to serve all his clients: “It seems that this was one of the main things
that the people missed during the first lockdown.”