Coronavirus: New COVID-19 cases hit record high

 

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 globally hit a record high on Sunday, the World Health Organisation said.

The UN agency warned the pandemic appeared to be worsening, and has urged countries that had seen improvement to remain vigilant.

"More than 100,000 cases have been reported on nine of the past 10 days," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing overnight. "Yesterday, more than 136,000 cases were reported - the most in a single day so far."

SOUTH AMERICA THE 'NEW EPICENTRE'

Dr Tedros said three-quarters of the new cases came from just 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia.

The WHO recently deemed South America the "new epicentre" for infections, with Brazil leading the continent in cases.

Brazil alone currently has the world's second-highest number of cases after the United States, with over 670,000 people infected since the pandemic began.

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The country's far-right government has been accused of censorship after it stopped releasing its COVID-19 figures, and wiped an official site clean of data.

Its leader Jair Bolsonaro faces increasing global criticism for his response to the pandemic, and his insistence on prioritising the country's economy over the health crisis.

He has also been slammed for downplaying the pandemic, having infamously compared it to a "little flu", and for touting an antimalarial drug as a cure for the virus despite inconclusive scientific evidence.

The United States is also expected to see a boom in cases following weeks of protests over racial injustice.

Dr Tedros gave a special message to those protesting on the streets, calling for demonstrators to practice social distancing, wear masks, wash their hands, cover their coughs and stay home if they are sick.

"We continue to urge active surveillance to ensure the virus does not rebound, especially as mass gatherings of all kinds are starting to resume in some countries," he said.

"The WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism. We reject discrimination of all kinds. We encourage all those protesting around the world to do so safely."

'THE BIGGEST THREAT NOW IS COMPLACENCY'

Dr Tedros issued an appeal to countries that had been seeing positive signs, warning them that "the biggest threat now is complacency".

Cases in Europe are beginning to stabilise. The continent has recorded more than 175,000 deaths since the virus emerged in China last December, including more than 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom, and a combined total of 90,000 in France, Italy and Spain.

The pandemic has infected more than seven million people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, with more than 400,000 deaths. More than a quarter of the deaths have been in the United States.

Australia has fared well compared to many other Western countries, with 7260 cases and 102 deaths recorded since the pandemic first hit our shores in late January.

However, there are concerns among health authorities following a series of Black Lives Matter rallies held across the country over the weekend.

About 30,000 people were estimated to have gathered in Melbourne and Brisbane, and 20,000 in Sydney, in solidarity with the US protesters and to raise awareness for the number of Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia.

Protesters were advised to wear face masks and maintain social distancing where possible to ensure the virus did not spread.

WARNINGS OF DEEPEST RECESSION SINCE WWII

The COVID-19 pandemic will see the global economy plunged into its deepest recession since the second world war, and force "many millions" more people into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank's latest economic outlook.

Global output will shrink by 5.2 per cent in 2020, economic activity among advanced economies is expected to shrink 7 per cent, and emerging economies will contract by 2.5 per cent - the steepest fall in 60 years.

"Per capita incomes are expected to decline by 3.6 per cent, which will tip millions of people into extreme poverty this year," the report said.

The grim forecast comes as Australia enters its first recession in close to three decades.

The Reserve Bank predicts our economy will contract by six per cent in 2020, with World Bank economists saying that under a worst-case scenario global GDP could shrink by almost 8 per cent.

Originally published as New virus cases hit record high


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