The corona virus pandemic has now claimed more than 400,000 lives, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. More than a quarter of these were in the U.S., according to the NBC News’ tally.
The grisly toll was reached after tens of thousands of people around the world defied COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to protest against the death of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died under the knee of a former Minnesota police officer last month. More protests are planned for Sunday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned about the dangers of such protests on Friday. He told Wshington D.C radio station that he was “very concerned” about large crowds congregating in geographic areas where there is active infection transmission.
He added that it was the “perfect setup” for further spread of the virus.
“It’s a delicate balance, because the reasons for demonstrating are valid, and yet, the demonstration itself puts one at an additional risk,” Fauci said.
The only thing public health officials could do was to keep warning people to be careful, while urging them to wear a face mask and keep it on at all times, he added.
His comments were echoed by Britain’s Health Minister, Matt Hancock, on Sunday. He said the protests against Floyd’s death in the U.K were “undoubtedly a risk” for coronavirus spread. With more than 40,000 deaths, the U.K. has suffered more deaths than any other country apart from the U.S.
Hancock was speaking after anti-racism protesters briefly clashed with mounted police in central London on Saturday after thousands had gathered to protest. There were also demonstrations in France, Australia South Korea and Japan, as well as a number of other countries around the world.