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US virus cases pass 2 million

World

Total US coronavirus cases have surpassed 2 million, according to a Reuters tally, as health officials urge anyone who took part in massive protests for racial justice to get tested.

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Across the country new infections are rising slightly after five weeks of declines, according to a Reuters analysis.

Part of the increase is due to more testing, which hit a record high on June 5 of 545,690 tests in a single day but has since fallen, according to the COVID-Tracking Project.

Recent increases in cases are likely a result of more people moving about and resuming some business and pleasure activities as all 50 states gradually reopen.

Health officials believe the first US coronavirus cases appeared in January and the country recorded 1 million cases by April 28.

So far in June, there have been an average of 21,000 new cases a day compared with an average of 30,000 a day in April and 23,000 a day in May, according to a Reuters tally.

Total US coronavirus-related deaths have surpassed 112,000, also the most in the world.

On May 12, the World Health Organisation advised governments that before reopening, the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus should remain at 5.0 per cent or lower for at least 14 days.

US rates of positive test results have fluctuated between 4.0 per cent and 7.0 per cent and have not met those guidelines although many individual states have.

Some states were still reporting positive rates above the WHO threshold last week, with Maryland at 8.0 per cent, Utah at 9.0 per cent, Nebraska at 9.0 per cent, Virginia at 9.0 per cent, Massachusetts at 11 per cent and Arizona at 12 per cent.

At the peak of the outbreak in April, 25 per cent to 50 per cent of tests came back positive.

Claims later lockdown cost British lives

Britain’s death toll from COVID-19 could have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier, a former member of the UK government’s scientific advisory group says.

The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 245 to 41,128 as of June 9, according to government data released on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the lockdown on March 23.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told MPs that Britain had taken the right measures but too late.

“The epidemic was doubling every three to four days before lockdown interventions were introduced. So had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have then reduced the final death toll by at least a half,” Ferguson said.

“So whilst I think the measures… were warranted… certainly had we introduced them earlier, we would have seen many fewer deaths.”

Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London, produced a model which influenced Britain’s response to the pandemic but later stood down from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) after he was accused of breaking lockdown rules.

His comments echo those of another scientific adviser, John Edmunds, who said at the weekend that Britain should have gone into lockdown earlier.

Johnson said it was too early to say what regrets he had or lessons he could learn over the handling of the pandemic.

“We made the decisions at the time on the guidance of SAGE, including Professor Ferguson, that we thought were right for this country,” he told reporters.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the one issue he would choose to look at was how to speed up testing earlier.

“Many of the problems that we had came because we were unable to work out exactly where we were,” he said.

-with AAP

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