ROME — With confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States hitting 5 million Sunday, by far the highest of any country, the failure of the most powerful nation in the world to contain the scourge has been met with astonishment and alarm in Europe.
Perhaps nowhere outside the country is America’s bungled virus response viewed with more consternation than in Italy, which was ground zero of Europe’s epidemic. Italians were unprepared when the outbreak exploded in February, and the country still has one of the world’s highest official death tolls at more than 35,000.
But after a strict nationwide, 10-week lockdown, vigilant tracing of new clusters, and general acceptance of mask mandates and social distancing, Italy has become a model of virus containment.
“Don’t they care about their health?” a mask-clad Patrizia Antonini asked about people in the United States as she walked with friends along the banks of Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. “They need to take our precautions. . . . They need a real lockdown.’’
Much of the incredulity in Europe stems from the fact that America had the benefit of time, European experience, and medical know-how to treat the virus that the continent itself didn’t have when the first COVID-19 patients started filling intensive care units.
More than four months into a sustained outbreak, the United States reached the 5 million mark, according to the running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Health officials believe the actual number is perhaps 10 times higher, or closer to 50 million, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40 percent of all those who are infected have no symptoms.
India doctors ask for support as 196 die of COVID so far
NEW DELHI —The Indian Medical Association says 196 doctors have died of COVID-19 so far and, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requested adequate care for physicians and their families.
The Health Ministry on Sunday recorded nearly 64,000 new virus cases in the past 24 hours for a total of 2,153,010. At least 628,747 patients are still undergoing treatment.
India also recorded 861 fatalities, driving the death toll to 43,379.
India has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June and has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil. It has the fifth-most deaths, but its fatality rate of about 2 percent is far lower than the top two hardest-hit countries.
Even as India has maintained low mortality rates, the disease has spread widely across the country.
Masks in class? Questions as Germans go back to school
BERLIN — Masks during class, masks only in the halls, no masks at all. Distance when possible, no distance within same-grade groups, no distance at all.
As Germany’s 16 states start sending millions of children back to school in the middle of the global pandemic, the country’s famous sense of “Ordnung,” or order, has given way to uncertainty, with a hodgepodge of regional regulations that officials acknowledge may or may not work.
“There can’t, and never will, be 100 percent certainty,” said Torsten Kuehne, the official in charge of schools in Pankow, Berlin’s most populous district where 45,000 students go back to school Monday. “We are trying to minimize the risk as much as possible.”
Germany has won plaudits for managing to slow the spread of the coronavirus quickly, efficiently, and early, but the opening of schools is proving a new challenge as the country struggles to balance the concerns of anxious parents and children, skeptical scientists, worried teachers, and overtaxed administrators.
Many around the world will be closely observing the real-life experiment offered in Germany to see what works and what doesn’t. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stressed the government’s moral duty to ensure children return to class next month — despite having the highest official death toll in Europe.
Germany has seen some 217,000 confirmed cases and 9,200 deaths, and brought down a peak of some 6,000 new daily infections in March to the low hundreds. Numbers have been creeping back up, however, and topped the 1,000 per day mark in recent days for the first time in about three months.
Britain records more than 1,000 new virus infections
LONDON — Britain has recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections in a day for the first time since late June.
Government statistics say 1,062 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the 24 hours until 9 a,m. Sunday. The last time the number was over 1,000 was on June 26.
Britain has seen a gradual rise in coronavirus infections since it began lifting lockdown restrictions in mid-June. The government has put the next stage of reopening, which had been due to take effect Aug. 1, on hold for at least two weeks.
The number of patients hospitalized with the virus continues to decline, as does the daily number of deaths. Eight new COVID-19 fatalities were reported Sunday.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at 46,574, the highest in Europe.
Starvation looms for horses as tour industry collapses
MARRAKECH, Morocco — Abdenabi Nouidi sold his favorite horse for $150 to help feed the others on the team that pulls tourists in carriages through the buzzing streets of Marrakech, and he is still scared about the future for the others.The prospect of starvation looms for carriage horses and other animals normally used in Morocco’s tourist mecca., since visitors have vanished during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, or SPANA, says hundreds of Morocco’s carriage horses and donkeys are threatened amid the collapsing tourism industry. They are among the estimated 200 million horses, donkeys, camels, and elephants worldwide providing various livelihoods for more than a half-billion people.
The North African kingdom closed its doors to outsiders after the first virus case was confirmed March 2. It also recently issued a ban on domestic travel to eight cities, including Marrakech.
Thousands of people in the city depend on the carriage horses for their livelihood. A single horse carriage in Marrakech supports four to five families, including owners, drivers, and stable boys, driver Abdeljalil Belghaoute said.
In Mexico, the sick are avoiding hospitals
MEXICO CITY — Mexico is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, with more than 52,000 confirmed deaths, the third-highest toll of the pandemic. And its struggle has been made even harder by a pervasive phenomenon: a deeply rooted fear of hospitals.
The problem has long plagued nations overwhelmed by unfamiliar diseases. During the Ebola epidemic in 2014, many in Sierra Leone believed that hospitals had become hopeless death traps.
The consequences, doctors, nurses, and health ministers say, are severe. Mexicans are waiting to seek medical care until their cases are so bad that doctors can do little to help them. Thousands are dying before ever seeing the inside of a hospital, government data show, succumbing to the virus in taxis on the way there or in sickbeds at home.
Fighting infections at home may not only spread the disease more widely, epidemiologists say, but it also hides the true toll of the epidemic because an untold number of people die without ever being tested — and officially counted — as coronavirus victims.
Many Mexicans say they have good reason to be wary of hospitals: Nearly 40 percent of people hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus in Mexico City, the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak, end up dying, government data show, a high mortality rate even when compared with some of the worst coronavirus hot spots worldwide.
Doctors say more patients would survive if they sought help earlier. Delaying treatment, they argue, simply leads to more deaths in hospitals — which then generates even more fear of hospitals.