India has said it aims to complete a coronavirus survey of Delhi’s entire population of 29 million people, while officials in the US have reacted with alarm to the Trump administration’s plan to end federal support for some Covid-19 testing sites.

Civil servants will visit every household in India’s capital by 6 July to record health details and test people who show or report symptoms. Police have been ordered to enforce distancing rules and prevent people from mixing in more than 200 containment zones.

The city is the country’s worst-hit area, with 70,390 confirmed cases. Nationwide, another record high of 16,922 new cases were reported on Thursday, taking the official total to 473,105 – behind only the US, Brazil and Russia, and five times the tally in China which has a similar-sized population.

Local authorities have said the number of cases in Delhi could reach half a million by late July, and they are considering converting hotels and stadiums into field hospitals. Army medics are already caring for patients in specially adapted railway carriages at nine locations in the capital.

Authorities are confident that most of the increase in new cases being detected is a function of increased testing. “Going forward, this should help in the early isolation of those who are infected,” said Giridhara Babu, a government epidemiologist.

In the US, the government’s plan to end federal support for 13 testing sites in Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado was criticised as irresponsible, after several states reported record numbers of new cases.

Hospital admissions hit record highs in seven US states this week, including Texas, which reported an all-time daily high of 5,489 new cases on Tuesday. Four US congresspeople from Texas issued a letter urging the government to reconsider.

The majority of US states to have witnessed fresh spikes – Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas – are in the south, where lockdown measures were eased earlier than in many other places. California has also reported record highs.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tracking centre, Covid-19 has now infected 9.47 million people worldwide and killed nearly 483,500.

The virus continues to cause major healthcare problems in Europe. The World Health Organization’s regional director for the continent, Hans Kluge, said on Thursday that Europe had seen its first increase in weekly cases for several months, after countries began easing restrictions.

“Thirty countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks,” Kluge said. “In 11 of them, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again.”

Germany, which began easing the rules about seven weeks ago, reimposed lockdowns on more than 600,000 people in two areas in the western part of the country this week, while Portugal imposed new restrictions in and around Lisbon.

Spain’s government on Thursday reached an agreement with unions and the main employers’ association to extend national furlough schemes, known as ERTEs, by three months until 30 September, sources told Reuters.

In France, the Eiffel Tower reopened after a three-month closure, its longest since the second world war. Visitors had to wear masks and take the stairs – all 674 of them – to the second floor, since health regulations mean the lifts are out of service.

Outside Europe, Israel has reported a surge in new cases since it eased restrictions in mid-May, prompting the government to approve the reintroduction of a controversial tracking system administered by the domestic security agency, the Shin Bet.

Sigal Sadetzky, the head of public health services at Israel’s health ministry, said the government “may have opened too quickly. The public is not disciplined or wearing masks.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Indonesia surpassed 50,000 on Thursday as the government allowed businesses to reopen. A government task force said the coronavirus was confirmed to have killed at least 2,620 people, the highest number of fatalities in the region.

China reported 19 new cases on Thursday amid mass testing in Beijing, where a recent outbreak appears to have been brought under control. Five of the cases were Chinese travellers from overseas. No new deaths were reported.

And in Cambodia, tourism operators said they hoped officials would drop a deposit scheme under which incoming travellers must make a $3,000 (£2,400) downpayment on any coronavirus medical costs they incur – including their funeral.

The government announced this month that all foreigners entering the country must have an insurance package worth $50,000 and make a deposit of $3,000 in cash or by credit card to cover healthcare, laundry services, meals and, if needed, a funeral.


Jon Henley

The GuardianTramp

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