Tough winter ahead as US approaches 80 lakh cases amid spike

Washington, Oct 16 (IANS) Signalling a harsh winter ahead, the US which is now approaching 80 lakh cases, has suddenly witnessed a spike in caseloads, averaging more than 50,000 daily new Covid-19 infections.
At least 35 states are now reporting more new cases than the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“This is the time when we could be entering one of the worst periods of our epidemic and one of our worst periods in modern American public health. I’m very worried for the nation,” Dr Peter Hotez, professor and dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told the CNN on Friday.
“An updated forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now projects the US could top 389,000 Covid-19 deaths by February 1,” the report said.
The model forecast there will most likely be about 389,087 deaths — or 78 per cent more fatalities — by February 1. The model’s best-case scenario projects 314,000 deaths by then, if all Americans use masks. There could be more than 477,000 deaths if mask mandates are eased, the model projected.
Data by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that more than 20,000 Americans could die from the virus in just the next three weeks. More than 217,000 Americans have already lost their lives to the virus.
It doesn’t have to be this way, the report said.
“Experts have repeatedly said that doubling down on simple safety measures including masks, social distancing and hand washing can work to slow transmission of the virus and bring case numbers down”, the report lamented.
Dr Anthony Fauci who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has warned the country should try to lower its baseline ahead of the fall and winter months.
States across the US are now reporting upticks in test positivity, which has “proven in the past to be a very good prediction of a surge in cases, which ultimately leads to a surge in hospitalisations, and then ultimately, in some individuals that will obviously be an increase in deaths,” Fauci said on “Good Morning America” on Thursday.
The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 38.8 million, while the deaths have soared to more than 1,097,180, according to Johns Hopkins University.
France has reported its highest number of single-day Covid-19 cases, with a total of 30,621 people testing positive for the virus in a span of 24 hours, health authorities said.
“The situation is definitely getting worse,” Prime Minister Jean Castex warned at a briefing on Thursday.
In this context, France will enter a 30-day state of emergency on Saturday.
Curfews will be reimposed in Paris and other eight major cities from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in an effort to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The night-time ban on movement will be introduced on Friday midnight and will remain in force at least for four weeks.

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