NEW YORK • Global cases of the coronavirus have exceeded eight million, as infections surge in Latin America, and the United States and China grapple with fresh outbreaks.
The US still leads the world with the highest number of coronavirus infections – more than two million or about 25 per cent of all reported cases.
But the outbreak is growing the fastest in Latin America, which now accounts for 21 per cent of all cases, according to a Reuters tally.
Brazil’s coronavirus cases and deaths have surged to make it the No. 2 hot spot in the world.
The first case of the coronavirus was reported in China late last year and it took until early last month to reach four million cases globally. But it has taken just five weeks for that to double to eight million.
The global death toll, which now stands at nearly 440,000, has doubled in seven weeks.
Although Brazil’s official death toll from the pandemic has risen to more than 44,000, the true impact is likely to be far greater than the data shows, health experts said, citing a lack of widespread testing in Latin America’s largest country.
In the US, which has recorded more than 118,000 deaths, testing is still being ramped up months after the start of the outbreak.
After the number of cases declined in much of the country for weeks, many areas are now reporting record numbers of new cases and hospitalisations.
Fears of a second wave in hard-hit states – or a failure to get a grip on the first wave in some others – have led health experts to plead with the public to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and maintain social distance.
China is also grappling with a resurgence of the coronavirus just as its economy is trying to recover from its sweeping shutdowns imposed earlier this year.
After nearly two months with no new infections, Beijing has seen a spike in cases linked to the biggest wholesale food market in Asia.
The Beijing outbreak makes it China’s most serious flare-up since February, and the Chinese capital shut some areas to contain the virus cluster even as it spread to two other markets in the city.
New Zealand reported two new Covid-19 cases yesterday, breaking a 24-day streak of no new infections in the country.
Both cases resulted from recent travel from Britain, its Health Ministry said.
In India, data scientists predicted that the number of infections in the country would surge after it lifted a strict nationwide lockdown.
India’s confirmed cases are projected to nearly triple by July 15 to more than 800,000 cases, as its leaders tell citizens to “learn to live with the virus”, according to a forecast from a University of Michigan research team.
That would put India just below Brazil’s No. 2 spot in the global ranking of worst-hit countries, and on track to surpass the Latin American country, given its massive population of 1.3 billion people.
In Japan, a survey conducted by its Health Ministry showed that only 0.1 per cent of people in Tokyo have antibodies against the coronavirus, indicating that the spread of Covid-19 in the Japanese capital remains limited.