10.27pm EDT 22:27 Eleanor Ainge Roy The streets of New Zealand’s largest cities are beginning to empty, with most shops now closed, after the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, declared a state of emergency a few hours ago. In Dunedin packs of students continued to haunt the main thoroughfares, seeming to ignore the physical-distancing rules, and
The streets of New Zealand’s largest cities are beginning to empty, with most shops now closed, after the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, declared a state of emergency a few hours ago.
In Dunedin packs of students continued to haunt the main thoroughfares, seeming to ignore the physical-distancing rules, and liquor stores did a swift trade, many running out of spirits such as bourbon and gin.
Homeless people were the most common demographic remaining on the streets of Dunedin, while the few remaining tourists were wearing masks and gloves.
Doctors are only seeing urgent patients in-person, and triaging everyone else over the phone. Many pharmacies were not allowing anyone inside, and were instead receiving and handing out prescriptions through the door.
Lines of an hour or more stretched outside the Warehouse, hardware stores, supermarkets and firewood depots.
The mood on the streets was calm, if slightly strained. “It feels like we’re in a movie,” said one man standing outside an inner-city pharmacy, waiting for a prescription. “It’s buzzy, it’s weird”.
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Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has claimed he “wouldn’t feel anything” if infected with coronavirus and rubbished efforts to contain the illness with large-scale quarantines as his country’s two biggest cities went into shutdown in a desperate bid to save lives.
In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday night, Bolsonaro slammed what he branded the economically damaging “scorched earth” tactics being used to slow the advance of an illness that has now claimed about 15,000 lives around the world.
“The virus has arrived and we are fighting it and soon it will pass,” claimed Bolsonaro, who is facing a growing backlash in Brazil for repeatedly dismissing coronavirus as a media “fantasy” and “trick”.
Bolsonaro’s incendiary remarks came as both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo were placed under partial lockdown by municipal and state authorities who fear an explosion of cases in the coming days.
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In Argentina, new cases of coronavirus had their greatest daily leap so far Tuesday, with 86 new reported cases and two new deaths, bringing the total tally to 387 cases and six deaths so far. Argentina’s number is expected to grow at an accelerating pace in the days ahead, according to government projections, which estimate a minimum of 250,000 cases in the coming months.
The capital city of Buenos Aires and the Greater Buenos Aires area, which have a combined population of nearly 13 million people, continue to be the hardest hit, with 60 of the new cases Tuesday. With testing capabilities limited, the real number is believed to be much higher.
Authorities are worried about the importation of more coronavirus cases, despite all incoming flights being suspended, with the repatriation of tens of thousands of Argentinians still stranded in Europe, the US and especially from South American neighbours Chile and Brazil, where the lockdown has not been as stringent.
Authorities are hoping to stay ahead of the curve of the virus by reacting earlier than Spain or Italy did. “It’s a race against time,” said Buenos Aires governor Axel Kiciloff, whose province has been the hardest hit so far. “It’s a war and the first thing in a war is to save lives,” said Santa Fe governor Omar Perotti.
The country’s lockdown, originally set to end next Monday, looks certain to be extended until at least April 13 now.
“My hand will not shake,” President Alberto Fernández said, should he need to sign an extension.