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Illustration by Security Management

Global Summertime Surge of COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began rapidly spreading on a global scale at the beginning of 2020, leaders were optimistic that efforts to dampen the virus’s spread would keep case numbers low until a “second wave” of the outbreak, expected in the fall. But several countries are already seeing a surge of new coronavirus cases, notably nations that initially flattened the curve.

Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, and Lebanon—countries that managed to keep the virus from overwhelming their health systems, and had even reopened their economies and begun to move forward—are now reporting record numbers of new coronavirus cases, according to The Washington Post. And these countries are only a handful of dozens that are seeing the same trend.

In Japan, new cases of the virus have increased by more than 60 percent. “We now have got an epicenter developing within Japan. Unless we stop it with a full force as a nation, I worry that we might go the same way as New York or Milan,” said Tatsuhiko Kodama, a professor at the University of Tokyo who is leading a research project on the virus, in the Post article.

In Europe, some countries that reopened their borders and more social businesses, including nightclubs and bars, are also seeing a small but significant resurgence of new cases. World Health Organization (WHO) Europe estimates that 29 percent of the new confirmed cases were from Russia.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI)—the country’s center for disease control—described the recent rise in new cases “very disturbing,” as new daily cases rose to 815 on 24 July, whereas previous reports were down to roughly 500 new cases. The RKI stressed the importance of working against exacerbating the virus’s spread in Germany, noting that local hot spots appeared to include gatherings of family and/or friends, leisure activities, work settings, and community and health facilities.

Authorities in Belgium and Spain reintroduced certain restrictions as new cases rose to early-May numbers. Britain, which is also seeing an increase, imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from Spain. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the mandate was “unjust.” Other European countries have begun to reimpose restrictions in response to an early surge of the virus.

“Infectious-disease specialists say that references to a ‘second wave’ are not helpful, given that almost nowhere in the world has entirely banished the virus,” according to the Post. “Rather, they say, we can expect to see waves of growth and contraction as authorities relax and tighten containment measures.”

Asia has also seen “a worrying uptick of cases,” according to New Scientist, pointing to China with the highest numbers of daily cases since March.

“Worldwide, the cumulative number of cases has roughly doubled in the past six weeks, which WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited as a sign the pandemic is continuing to accelerate. In total, there have been more than 16 million cases and nearly 650,000 deaths. The (United States) is approaching the milestone of 150,000 deaths,” New Scientist reported.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the country’s seven-day average of new cases is up to 65,857, as of 27 July. According to the Post, as of 29 July approximately 146,000 people in the United States have died because of the coronavirus.

In South Africa, recent increases in new cases appeared in response to lifted restrictions. The country’s chair of the health ministry’s scientific advisory committee, Salim Adbool Karim, said in an interview with Nature magazine that cases could surpass the 1 million mark since some communities cannot practice social distancing and frequent hand washing.