World

Global coronavirus cases exceed 10 million

Milestone comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns while making extensive alterations to work and social life

BEIJING Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million yesterday, according to a Reuters tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.

The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.

The milestone comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.

Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern in the coming months and into 2021.

North America, Latin America and Europe each account for around 25 per cent of Covid-19 cases, while Asia and the Middle East have around 11 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, according to the Reuters tally, which uses government reports.

There have been more than 497,000 fatalities linked to the disease so far, roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.

The first cases were confirmed on Jan 10 in Wuhan in China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the US, and later Russia.

The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources.

The two countries accounted for over a third of all new cases in the past week.

RECORD HIGH

Brazil reported a record 54,700 new cases on June 19.

Some researchers said the death toll in Latin America could rise to over 380,000 by October, from around 100,000 this week.

Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have seen new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.

The US, which has reported the most cases of any country at more than 2.5 million, managed to slow the spread of the virus in May, only to see it expand in recent weeks to rural areas and other places that were previously unaffected.

Five states hit record daily highs for coronavirus cases on Saturday, and Vice President Mike Pence cancelled planned campaign events in hard-hit areas as the virus surged in the US South and West, halting economic reopening plans.

Florida on Saturday morning reported 9,585 new infections in 24 hours, setting a record for a second day, while Arizona recorded 3,591 new cases, matching its prior record on Tuesday.

The surge in cases has been most pronounced in states that reopened earlier and more aggressively, serving as a warning to the potentially illusory nature of any perceived progress in controlling the virus.

Director of the Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine at the University of South Florida Kami Kim said her state's leaders claimed victory too soon after lockdowns were lifted , while giving off conflicting messages by not wearing masks themselves.

"It was just complete denial by a huge swath of the politicians," she said. - REUTERS

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