Coronavirus: WHO reports record increase in cases worldwide

World round-up: More than 183,000 cases recorded in one day, as total passes 8.9 million

Supporters of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have taken to the streets of São Paulo to call for an end to coronavirus restrictions, even as the country passed 50,000 Covid-19 deaths. Video: Reuters

 

More than 8.9 million cases of coronavirus have been recorded worldwide with more than 468,300 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organisation reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 183,020 in a 24-hour period. The biggest increase was from North and South America with over 116,000 new cases.

The following is a summary of the latest developments on the virus around the world:

South Korea

Health authorities in South Korea said for the first time on Monday it is in the midst of a “second wave” of novel coronavirus infections around Seoul, driven by small but persistent outbreaks stemming from a holiday in May.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) had previously said South Korea’s first wave had never really ended.

But on Monday, KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said it had become clear that a holiday weekend in early May marked the beginning of a new wave of infections focused in the densely populated greater Seoul area, which had previously seen few cases.

At the end of February, South Korea reported a peak of more than 900 cases in a day, in the first large outbreak of the coronavirus outside of China.

An intensive tracking and testing campaign reduced the numbers to single digits by late April.

But just as the country announced it would be easing social distancing guidelines in early May, new cases spiked, driven in part by infections among young people who visited nightclubs and bars in Seoul over the holiday weekend.

“We originally predicted that the second wave would emerge in fall or winter,” Jeong said. “Our forecast turned out to be wrong. As long as people have close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue.”

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon told a briefing that while daily numbers may be at manageable levels, if recent infection rates continued the city could soon see hundreds of cases a day.

As of midnight Sunday, South Korea reported 17 new coronavirus cases, the first time in nearly a month that daily new cases had dropped below 20. It was a drop from the 48 and 67 cases reported in the previous two days. South Korea has reported a total of 12,438 cases, with 280 deaths.

Brazil

Brazil, the world’s number two coronavirus hot spot after the United States, officially passed 50,000 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, a blow for a country already grappling with more than 1 million cases, rising political instability and a crippled economy.

Brazil now has a total of 1,085,038 confirmed cases and 50,617 deaths, up from 49,976 on Saturday, the health ministry said. Experts say the true numbers are a lot higher because of a lack of widespread testing. Latin America’s largest country has typically recorded more than 1,000 deaths a day, but usually registers fewer on the weekends.

Brazil confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on February 26th and passed 1 million cases on Friday. Since first arriving in the country, the virus’ rapid spread has eroded support for right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro and has raised fears of economic collapse after years of anaemic growth.

Mr Bolsonaro, sometimes called the “Tropical Trump,” has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis. The country still has no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following clashes with the president.

Mr Bolsonaro has shunned social distancing, calling it a job-killing measure more dangerous than the virus itself. He has also promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence they work.

On Sunday, Mr Bolsonaro said the military serves the will of the people and its mission is to defend democracy, adding fuel to a raging debate about the armed forces’ role amid rumbling fears of political fragility.

His comments came on the same day his supporters and detractors gathered in cities across the country, in a stark symbol of the polarization in Latin America’s largest country.

China

China reported 18 new coronavirus cases for June 21st, 9 of which were in the capital Beijing, the National Health Commission said on Monday. This compared with 26 confirmed cases a day earlier, 22 of which were in Beijing. Local authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading following a series of local infections.

US

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 2,248,029 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 32,411 cases from its previous count and said that the number of deaths had risen by 560 to 119,615. The US has the highest number of cases and deaths in the world. Initial studies suggest protests after George Floyd’s death haven’t seemed to increase the rate of spread of the coronavirus, but Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it was too soon to rule out the events as a source of infections. “We know from what we’ve seen so far in the last few months that outdoors is less of a risk than indoors and that mask use has a major impact,” he said on Fox News Sunday. The rally for president Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday is concerning, he said, because people were sitting close together, few wore masks and hands were being shaken without sanitising. “All of those things will increase the risk of spread. We have seen in the past few months around the world that indoor gatherings have been the source of most super-spreading events.”

Germany

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 537 to 190,359, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 3 to 8,885, the tally showed.

The rise brings with it the possibility of renewed restrictions on activity in Europe’s largest economy - a blow to a country that so far had widely been seen as successful in curbing the coronavirus spread and keeping the death toll relatively low. Public health officials at RKI said that the country’s coronavirus reproductive number climbed to 2.88 on Sunday due to local outbreaks in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia where there is a large cluster of infection among meat plant workers. To keep the pandemic under control, Germany needs the reproduction rate to drop below one. The reproduction rate of 2.88 means that out of 100 people who contract the virus, a further 288 people will get infected. Authorities in Germany’s Goettingen and North Rhine Westphalia regions have called on police to enforce quarantine measures following the rise in local infections.

New Zealand

New Zealand is introducing stricter measures to strengthen its border as more citizens access increased flights to come home. “While the world enters this dangerous new phase, we remain in a phase of border containment,” the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said. The government renewed its health order, mandating 14 days of quarantine, which also included a new measure to ensure that people arriving in New Zealand must have a negative Covid-19 test before leaving quarantine, and may be required to take multiple tests. Ms Ardern said New Zealand would extend the ban on cruise ships beyond June 30th. Exceptions will be made for cargo ships to load and unload and for fishing vessels, but any ship crew arriving in New Zealand would need to spend 14 days in quarantine if they hadn’t been on the vessel for 28 days prior to it docking. Ms Ardern said she was considering the option of making those coming into the country paying to for their time in quarantined, rather than the government footing the bill. New Zealand now has nine active cases of Covid-19 as more people start arriving into the country from overseas.

UK

British prime minister Boris Johnson will unveil the latest easing of Britain’s

coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday when he will also announce the conclusion of a review into whether a two-metre rule on social distancing should be relaxed. Britain’s economy has been hammered by the lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19 and although non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen last Monday, many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors, have remained closed. Some lawmakers in Mr Johnson’s party have been vocal in calling for him to drop the two-metre rule saying it was having a devastating impact on the economy which shrank by a quarter over March and April. But the government has been cautious, saying it did not want to risk a second spike in novel coronavirus cases. Britain has one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid-19, but the number of cases has been steadily falling in recent weeks. The death toll on Sunday of confirmed cases rose by 43 to 42,632, one of the lowest increases since the lockdown was imposed in March.

Mexico

Mexico on Sunday reported 5,343 new infections and 1,044 additional deaths from the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, the health ministry said, bringing the totals for the country to 180,545 cases and 21,825 deaths. The government has said the actual number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

South Africa

The outbreak in South Africa is about to peak and the government expects hospitals to start filling up with patients, health minister Zweli Mkhize said. The number of new infections is projected to first peak in the Western Cape, which has been hardest hit by the pandemic, followed by Gauteng and the Eastern Cape province, Mr Mkhize said in an interview with radio station Safm on Monday.

France

The number of deaths in France from Covid-19 has risen by seven from the previous day to stand at 29,640 said the country’s national health service on Sunday. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 284 to 160,377.

Italy

Italy reported 24 deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday, compared with 49 a day earlier, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases stood at 224 from 262 on Saturday. The country’s death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 34,634, the agency said, the world’s fourth-highest after the United States, Brazil and Britain.

Thailand

Thailand on Monday reported three new coronavirus cases, all imported, marking 28 days without local transmission, a senior official said. The three new cases were Thai nationals returning from India and were detected in state quarantine, said spokesman for the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Wisanuyothin. Thailand has so far recorded 58 deaths related to COVID-19 among 3,151 infections, of which 3,022 patients have recovered. Taweesin said the administration was coordinating with Myanmar authorities regarding 23 coronavirus cases found among migrants deported from Thailand.

Australia

Australia’s second-most populous state has tightened coronavirus controls as a spike in cases triggers fears the nation could be hit by a second wave of infections. Victoria extended a state of emergency by four weeks to July 20th, halved the number of visitors allowed in homes to five and delayed a planned increase in the size of gatherings in cafes, restaurants and pubs. Australia has managed to limit the total number of coronavirus cases to 7,460 by closing international and state borders, quarantining returning residents, social distancing measures and a widespread testing and tracing regime. But concerns are growing about community transmission in Victoria, responsible for 116 new cases in the past week – 83 per cent of the national total.–PA, Reuters, Guardian, Bloomberg