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Global infections top 10 million: Virus update

(People attend the Pope’s weekly Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square in The Vatican, on Sunday as the city-state eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (AFP photo)

PARIS, (AFP):- Global infections from the novel coronavirus on Sunday surpassed 10 million as the rate of new cases surges.

One million new cases were recorded in only six days, according to an AFP count, just as countries start to unwind punishing lockdowns that have devastated their economies and thrown millions out of work.

The worldwide death toll from the disease that first emerged in China about six months ago is also nearing 500,000 as fears grow of a full-blown second wave.

The United States, the hardest hit country, has surpassed 2.5 million cases alone, as efforts to reopen the world’s economic powerhouse were set back by a jump in new infections in states such as Florida.

Infections are also up in some other parts of the world that have reopened, with Europe now registering over 2.6 million, according to the AFP tally based on official sources.

– ‘Severe and complicated’ –
China on Sunday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding Beijing to contain a fresh coronavirus cluster.

Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters that the situation was “severe and complicated,” warning that the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.

The tension between reopening battered economies — efforts pushed in the US by President Donald Trump — and public health is a source of debate in nearly every country.

On Saturday alone the US recorded more than 43,000 new cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. US deaths now exceed 125,000, approximately one-quarter the world total of almost 499,000.

Across the Atlantic, the EU on Saturday pushed back a decision on a list of “safe countries” from which travellers can visit Europe — a list which could exclude the US.

Meanwhile stars including Coldplay, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson lent support to a European Commission-led drive Saturday that raised 6.15 billion euros ($6.9 billion) to support vaccine research and help make it available to poorer countries.

In India, densely populated cities have been particularly hard hit. The country set a daily record Saturday with 18,500 new cases and 385 deaths. Total infections are at 509,000, with more than 15,600 deaths.

In the Middle East, the governor of Bethlehem announced that the Palestinian city would temporarily close due to rising infections.

Iran, which has struggled to curb its outbreak even as it gradually lifted restrictions from April, has launched a mask-wearing campaign.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had warned Saturday that Iran’s economic problems would worsen if the coronavirus spreads unchecked.

The disease also continues to rampage through Latin America, with Peru topping 9,000 deaths Saturday.

Brazil — the second hardest-hit country after the US — recorded 990 deaths on Saturday, the highest toll in the world that day, while Mexico recorded the second highest at 719.

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