Risk of new lockdowns rises with fear of second COVID-19 wave

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LONDON/BRUSSELS: Fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections shut six major food markets in Beijing on Friday, while India, which opened up this week, recorded a record daily increase and half a dozen US states said their hospital beds were filling up fast.

Health officials worldwide have expressed concerns in recent days that some countries grappling with the devastating economic impact of lockdowns may lift restrictions too swiftly, and that the coronavirus could spread during mass anti-racism protests.

“We must be ready to roll back relaxation of measures if needed,” the European Union’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said after urging its 27 members to plough ahead with testing the population as they reopen schools and businesses.

In China, where the new coronavirus originated, two new cases of COVID-19, the disease it causes, were recorded in the capital. Authorities closed part or all of six big wholesale food markets which the two men had recently visited but it was not known how they had become infected.

India opened most public transport, offices and malls this week after nearly 70 days even though health officials said it was weeks away from flattening the rising infection curve.

The official death toll, at 8,498, is relatively small, but the health ministry said registered cases rose by 10,956 on Friday, a record, with many in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

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