World

Global cases hit 30 million as virus shows no signs of slowing down

India the new epicentre; EU chief warns 'vaccine nationalism' would deprive most vulnerable of immunity

SYDNEY: Global coronavirus cases are expected to pass 30 million, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing.

India was firmly in focus as the latest epicentre, although North and South America combined accounted for almost half of the global cases.

Global new daily case numbers reached record levels in recent days and deaths neared one million as the international race to develop and market a vaccine heated up.

The official number of global cases is now more than five times the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

India on Wednesday became only the second country in the world, after the United States, to record more than 5 million cases.

The world's second most populous country has been reporting more new daily cases than the US since mid-August and accounts for just over 16 per cent of global known cases.

Yesterday, 90,123 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.

It took 18 days for global cases to surge from 25 million to more than 30 million.

It took 20 days for the world to go from 20 million to 25 million and 19 days to go from 15 million to 20 million.

VACCINE

Meanwhile, rich nations representing a fraction of the global population have already bought up over half the promised vaccine stocks.

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday warned against "vaccine nationalism" that she said could put lives at risk by depriving the most vulnerable in poorer nations of immunity.

But a study released by Oxfam showed a group of wealthy countries representing just 13 per cent of the world population has already secured the lion's share of doses.

"Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn't depend on where you live or how much money you have," said Mr Robert Silverman of Oxfam America. "Covid-19 anywhere is Covid-19 everywhere."

About 51 per cent of those jabs have been snapped up by the wealthy world, including the US, Britain, the European Union, Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel.

The remaining 2.6 billion have been bought by or promised to developing countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

In South-east Asia, the Philippines recorded 3,375 new cases and 53 more deaths yesterday.

The Health Department said the confirmed cases have reached 276,289, the most in the region, while deaths have increased to 4,785.

Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, plans to double its testing capacity in the near future.

Jakarta alone has seen more than 1,000 new daily cases on average this month, more than double the average in the first half of last month.

Governor Anies Baswedan said in an interview yesterday that the city of 10 million was conducting about 50,000 daily tests and hopes to "at least reach double from where we are today".

Indonesia reported 3,635 new infections yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 232,628, the Health Ministry's website showed.

There were 122 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 9,222, the highest in South-east Asia.

Malaysia recorded 21 new cases yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 10,052. - REUTERS, AFP, THE STAR

WORLD