Unthinkable just a few months ago, the United States on Wednesday surpassed the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a sobering reminder of the devastation being wreaked around the globe by a virus that only emerged late last year.
Confirmed US deaths stood at 100,396 late Wednesday, with nearly 1.7 million infections, according to the tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
READ: US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000: Johns Hopkins
The 24-hour toll shot back up after three days of sharp declines, to 1,401.
Nevertheless, most US states moved toward reopening restaurants and businesses, cheered on by President Donald Trump, who is eager to see the economic pain of the crisis mitigated as he seeks re-election. The US capital Washington will ease its lockdown from Friday.
But Trump’s top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci warned against “leapfrogging” guidelines in order to open more quickly.
“That’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble,” Fauci told CNN.
Largest spike in Sokor
South Korea reported its biggest spike in coronavirus cases in nearly two months on Thursday, prompting a re-imposition of a series of social distancing measures.
READ: South Korea re-imposes some social restrictions to combat new virus cases
Museums, parks and art galleries in the Seoul metropolitan area will all be closed again for two weeks from Friday, said health minister Park Neung-hoo, while companies were urged to re-adopt flexible working practices, among other measures.
“We have decided to strengthen all quarantine measures in the metropolitan area for two weeks from tomorrow to June 14,” he said.
The country has been held up as a global model in how to curb the virus and has begun to ease restrictions, but is now rushing to contain new infections as life returns to normal.
Officials announced 79 new cases Thursday – taking its total to 11,344 – with most fresh infections from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. It was the largest increase since 81 cases were announced on April 5.
86M kids at risk of poverty
The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic could push as many as 86 million more children into poverty by the end of 2020, a joint study by Save the Children and UNICEF showed.
That would bring the total number of children affected by poverty worldwide to 672 million, an increase of 15 percent over last year, the two aid agencies said in a statement.
Nearly two-thirds of those children overall live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
“The scale and depth of financial hardship among families threatens to roll back years of progress in reducing child poverty and to leave children deprived of essential services,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore is quoted as saying in the statement.
With immediate and decisive action, “we can prevent and contain the pandemic threat facing the poorest countries and some of the most vulnerable children,” added Save the Children head Inger Ashing.
READ: Romualdez takes up anti-virus shield for kids