Update June 28, 2020

Dhaka 5-47 pm, 13-July, 2020

Worldwide confirmed coronavirus cases hit 10 million; Pence skips campaign rallies

Mirajul Moin Joy

Worldwide confirmed coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark Sunday as voters in Poland and France went to the polls for virus-delayed elections. Vice President Mike Pence called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona after surges in infections prompted worries that the U.S. has lost control of its outbreak.

New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed that the virus was still circulating widely in Europe, though not at the exponential rate of growth seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.

Wearing mandatory masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand santizer, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots to avoid further contagion.

“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.

While concern in the U.S. has focused on big states like Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also seeing infection surges, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.

The U.S. handling of the outbreak has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from traveling to the bloc in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.

The infection surges prompted Pence to call off campaign events in Florida and Arizona, although he will still travel to those states and to Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. Those three governors have come under criticism for aggressively reopening their economies after virus lockdowns despite increasing infections in their states.

After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed down bars in their states again. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself and allowed cities and counties to require face masks in public even though he hasn’t been seen wearing one.

“This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department of the Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon.”

Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths neared half a million, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases. The U.S. also has the highest virus death toll in the world at over 125,000.

Experts say all those figures significantly undercount the true toll of the pandemic, due to limited testing and missed mild cases. U.S. government experts last week estimated the U.S. alone could have had 10 million cases.

Workplace infection worries increased after Tyson Foods announced that 371 employees at its chicken processing plant in the southwestern corner of Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19.

In the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase. But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing.

Britain’s government, meanwhile, is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.

“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC on Sunday.

Polish voters were casting ballots, in person and by mail, for a presidential election that was supposed to have taken place in May but was chaotically postponed amid the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second 5-year term.

Iwona Goge, 79, was encouraged to see so many people voting in Warsaw.

“It’s bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged,” she said.

French voters were choosing mayors and municipal councilors in Paris and 5,000 towns and cities in a second round of municipal elections held under strict hygiene rules. Key battlegrounds include Paris, where the next mayor will preside over the 2024 Summer Olympics. The spread of the virus in France has slowed significantly but is still expected to h

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