China cancels flights, classes over new outbreak as India deaths soar

China cancels flights, classes over new outbreak as India deaths soar

ISLAMABAD-China closed schools in Beijing and restricted air travel from the capital on Wednesday to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections, as India's death toll spiked.

The new Chinese cluster and surging infections in Latin America and South Asia have raised fresh doubts about how soon the world can control the pandemic, which has seen more than 8.1 million cases and nearly 440,000 deaths.

 While hopes were boosted by a "breakthrough" treatment that could reduce deaths among COVID-19 patients, the lack of a vaccine means nations have to rely on some form of lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

After 31 more cases were reported in Beijing, Chinese authorities on Wednesday cancelled more than 1,200 flights from the capital's main airports, state media reported, adding to restrictions placed earlier on close to 30 residential compounds.

"The situation is serious and people don't want to come out," said Bai Xue, a staff member at a Beijing restaurant which put up a notice online saying it has not sourced food from Xinfadi, the sprawling wholesale market linked to the new outbreak.

With nearly 140 cases now reported from Beijing, authorities in the city shut schools once again and urged residents not to leave as thousands were tested for the coronavirus.

While the fears in China are about a full-blown second wave of infections after largely bringing its outbreak under control, other nations such as India are just beginning to feel the full force of the pandemic.

The South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people reported a sharp spike in deaths to nearly 12,000, and now has the fourth-highest COVID-19 caseload in the world.

Hospitals in India's financial capital Mumbai have been overwhelmed by cases, and authorities in Delhi have taken over hotels and banquet halls to put house patients.

There have been surges too in Iran and Saudi Arabia, while eyes remain on Latin America, the new epicentre.

Brazil, the worst-hit nation after the United States, reported its highest daily jump in cases, while Peru's death toll surged past 7,000.(AFP/APP)