WHO reports record hike in virus cases

Updated 05 Jul 2020

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Passengers register their information at the New China International Exhibition Center, a transit hub to screen incoming passengers from the Beijing Capital International Airport for Covid-19 in March 2020. — Reuters/File
Passengers register their information at the New China International Exhibition Center, a transit hub to screen incoming passengers from the Beijing Capital International Airport for Covid-19 in March 2020. — Reuters/File

LONDON: The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Saturday, with the total rising by 212,326 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil and India, according to a daily report. The previous WHO record for new cases was 189,077 on June 28. Deaths remained steady at about 5,000 a day.

Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

India recorded its highest single-day spike of virus cases, with over 22,000 new cases and 442 deaths, as in­fections rose in the western and southern parts of the country amid heavy monsoon rains.

The western state of Maharashtra, home to the densely packed financial capital Mumbai, has the country’s highest total, recording 6,364 fresh cases of the virus on Saturday and 198 deaths from Covid-19.

India has the fourth-most confirmed cases in the world, exceeding 640,000 on Saturday, according to health ministry data. It follows the United States, Brazil and Russia.

Officials in Mumbai warned residents to stay away from the coast, as heavy rains were predicted for the next 48 hours. The monsoons typically cause waterlogging in many parts of the city and could scuttle coronavirus containment efforts by causing a further rise in infection numbers, experts say.

Epidemiologists warn India’s peak could still be weeks or months away, suggesting the country’s already severely overburdened healthcare system will come under further stress.

Meanwhile, Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region locked down an area with around 200,000 residents following a surge in cases.

Officials said nobody would be allowed to enter or leave the area, gatherings of more than 10 people would be banned and visits to retirement homes halted.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said people not wearing masks should be refused service in enclosed public spaces, as the government moved to make it obligatory.

Cases have been skyrocketing across Latin America as well.

Brazil now has 1.5 million confirmed infections and 63,000 deaths while the caseloads in Peru and Chile have also exceeded those in any part of Europe except for Russia.

Yet Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro authorised bars and restaurants to reopen at 50 per cent capacity in a bid to draw in tourists to Copacabana beach.

Cases also surpassed 200,000 in Saudi Arabia as the virus continued to spread through the Middle East.

Countries across Africa forged ahead with plans to reopen despite steadily rising cases.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020