Countries tighten measures as virus toll tops 7,00,000

France and the Netherlands imposed stricter mask-wearing rules on Wednesday amid signs that the COVID-19 pandemic is flaring up again across the globe, with the worldwide death toll exceeding 7,00,000.

Toulouse in southwest France announced that the wearing of face masks is compulsory in particularly busy streets and squares from Wednesday. And Paris and other cities are expected to follow suit soon, authorities said.

In the Netherlands, similar mask-wearing measures come into force in Rotterdam and in some busy neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, including its famous red-light district.

And Ireland has postponed the reopening of pubs and other nightspots on the advice of scientists, concerned about rising infections.

A total of 7,00,489 deaths have been recorded so far around the world, according to an AFP tally, double the number since May 26, with 1,00,000 registered in just under three weeks.

Europe remains the hardest hit region with 211,365 fatalities.

Brazil is driving a surge in Latin America and the Caribbean, where infections passed five million on Monday. South America’s largest country has recorded more than 2.75 million cases, and nearly 96,000 deaths, nearly half the region’s 2,03,800 fatalities.

In South Africa, the hardest-hit country in Africa, some 24,000 health workers have contracted the virus and 181 have died since March.

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