Nearly a billion people worldwide were confined this Sunday (22) to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 13.000 dead and at least 300.000 infected, as it spreads to new countries, including Colombia, which announced its first deadly victim.
The pandemic has led 35 countries to apply severe containment measures, which paralyze economies, transport and everyday life. In Italy, the country most affected, the situation is getting worse, with more than 4.800 deaths, a third of the world total.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of all non-essential factories in a televised message on Saturday night. The country, of 60 million people, is currently the epicenter of the disease, which appeared in central China in December and then spread to the rest of the world.
Italy has a death toll similar to that of mainland China and Iran - the third most affected country in the world - together, and has a mortality rate of 8,6% among confirmed cases of Covid-19, significantly higher than in most countries.
In the United States, a third of the population has begun to apply more or less stringent containment measures in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Other parts of the United States may reinforce their measures.
"It is a time for shared national sacrifice, but also a time for caring for our loved ones," said President Donald Trump. "We are going to have a great victory," he added.
World leaders promise to do everything possible to fight the pandemic, as the number of dead and infected increases, especially in Europe.
Spain announced on Saturday a 32% increase in the death toll and President Pedro Sánchez warned that the population must prepare for "very difficult days".
In France, the death toll is 562. The police are using helicopters and drones to ensure that people stay at home as the government has decreed.
The unprecedented measures to contain the epidemic have forced the cancellation of all types of sporting events and increase pressure on the Olympic authorities to cancel the Tokyo Games, scheduled for July and August.
- First case in Colombia -
In Latin America, Colombia announced its first death from coronavirus, a 58-year-old taxi driver from Cartagena who had transported "foreign citizens in his vehicle," said the Minister of Health. There are 210 infected in the country.
Bolivia, meanwhile, ordered citizens to stay at home since Sunday and El Salvador on Saturday imposed a mandatory quarantine for 30 days.
In Brazil, the beaches of Rio de Janeiro were closed and Guatemala announced the application of a partial curfew to prevent the spread of the virus, which caused 17 infections, including one fatal.
In other countries in the region, such as Mexico, whose authorities resist taking drastic measures, many citizens have decided to protect themselves.
The Covid-19 pandemic, of which more than 13.000 people have already died according to an AFP count from official sources, sank the world's stock exchanges and the United States, the world's first economy, is preparing an aid plan that could reach a trillion dollars.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the situation could go on for months.
"I don't think that in a city this big, it's possible for people to be quarantined for more than three weeks before they start losing patience," Yona Corn, 35, told AFP.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first test to detect the coronavirus that provides the result in 45 minutes.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife had negative results for coronavirus, the vice president announced on Saturday, despite having had contact with infected service personnel.
- Closing in India -
The drastic containment measures follow the example of China, where the closure of Hubei province seems to have been worthwhile.
It was in Wuhan, the provincial capital, that the virus first appeared.
France, Italy, Spain and other European countries have ordered people to stay at home, in some cases under threat of fines.
Australia asked its citizens to cancel their travel within the country.
In the UK, bars, restaurants and theaters have closed, and authorities have asked citizens not to buy large quantities of food.
China on Sunday announced its first local contagion in four days. The number of cases in mainland China has dropped dramatically, but now Asia fears the arrival of “imported” cases from Europe and other parts of the world.
Thailand today announced its biggest increase in cases in one day, bringing the total to about 600.
In India, a day of “self-imposed quarantine” was declared.
Although, for now, the elderly and those with other diseases are the main victims, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that young people are also vulnerable.
Infection rates are uncertain because many countries do not perform tests.
In Africa, where health infrastructure is very limited and measures of social distance are difficult to apply, the coronavirus has infected more than XNUMX people.
The Middle East is also on alert. Iran, one of the most affected countries, announced 129 new deaths on Sunday, but officials do not want to impose confinement measures at the moment.
Photo source and credits: AFP.