At a protest near Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong last week, some demonstrators tried to obey virus-related rules that ban public gatherings of more than eight people — by marching in bands of eight. One of them, the pro-democracy district councilor Lo Kin-hei, said on Twitter that he had been fined by the police anyway.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government has extended the ban on large gatherings until June 4, the day of an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 is usually held at a local park. Protest organizers, who say that the timing is no coincidence, have called on residents to light candles across the city instead of gathering.
Earlier this month, traditional May 1 labor rallies across Europe were called off in many countries, but some people turned out anyway, with a number of them incorporating social distancing.
This week in Minneapolis, demonstrators wore face coverings, and some had hand sanitizer. Still, the group as a whole seemed to send a message that their desire for justice had outweighed any potential concerns about the virus.
Yet even as the pace of new infections quickens — with nearly 700,000 new known cases reported in the last week after the pathogen found greater footholds in Latin America and the Gulf States — many countries are sputtering into reopenings at what experts fear may be the worst time.
In India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, doctors fear that a lockdown that began two months ago and has deeply wounded the economy is being eased too soon. Migrant workers are reporting infections at an alarmingly high rate, leading to fresh outbreaks in villages across northern India. Public hospitals in Mumbai are so overwhelmed that patients have taken to sleeping on cardboard in the hallways.
Elsewhere in Asia, a major concern is Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most-populous country, where the caseload has doubled since early this month to nearly 25,000. Health experts say even that doubling reflects the limits of testing rather than the true number of infections, and they are bracing for runaway transmission.
Still, the Indonesian government has said that national coronavirus restrictions, already a scattershot effort, must be relaxed to save the economy.
But other countries are already seeing their gradual reopenings as successful. Christian Drosten, Germany’s top virologist, said he believed the country might escape a second wave of coronavirus infections, with cases continuing to diminish even as the lockdown lifts.
“We are really in a good situation right now,” he told the newsmagazine Spiegel in an interview. “It is quite possible that the virus will now leave us alone for quite some time.”
When asked how long, he noted that the virus was not permanently banished, but said that Germany “might be able to avoid a second shutdown.”
According to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s equivalent of the CDC, Germany’s coronavirus reproduction…
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