The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide passed 12 million on Thursday, as cases continue to grow by roughly one million a week. Thursday’s milestone was spurred by the United States recording the highest one-day increase in cases anywhere in the world since the pandemic began, with just over 60,000 cases reported in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
The US, with a total of 3 million cases and 132,299 deaths, accounts for roughly a quarter of the world’s 12,012,720 cases and 548,914 deaths.
At least 35 US states see growing numbers of new cases since last week, CNN reported. Intensive care units at 56 hospitals in Florida have reached capacity. California hospitalisations are at an all-time high, and Texas hospitalisations have broken state records for the 10th day in a row, according to the health department.
In Mississippi, at least 26 legislators and 10 others working at the state Capitol tested positive for the coronavirus, a public health official said on Wednesday, as the governor implored residents to take precautions amid a rapid rise in confirmed cases statewide.
In Ohio, Tulsa City senior health official Dr Bruce Dart said President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June – which drew thousands of participants and large protests – “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new cases.
Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the 20 June rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.
In South America, Chile’s cases climbed above 300,000, overtaking the UK. Unions at Chile’s Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, said on Wednesday that nearly 3,000 workers had been infected, prompting renewed calls for more safety measures at the company’s sprawling operations. Chile will begin easing lockdown measures in two southern regions on Monday with 800,000 people able to resume some of their activities and those over 75 able to go out once a day.
Argentina posted a daily record of 3,604 confirmed cases, marking the first time its daily count has surpassed 3,000. Argentina has 87,030 cases, a fivefold rise since the start of June, though still well below case loads in Brazil, Chile and Peru.
In Brazil, the second-worst affected country worldwide in terms of cases, President Jair Bolsonaro, who this week tested positive for the virus, vetoed provisions of a law requiring government to provide drinking water, disinfectants and guaranteed hospital beds to indigenous communities amid the pandemic.
Brazil has 1.7 million cases and 67,964 deaths.
In New Zealand, which has in effect eliminated the virus, police officers will patrol quarantine hotels around-the-clock after a number of people – including a man who tested positive for coronavirus – escaped the managed isolation facilities. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government struck a deal earlier this week with Air New Zealand to limit the number of places available for international arrivals, given the strain on compulsory isolation facilities.
Australia, which is scrambling to contain an outbreak in the suburb of Victoria that this week saw Melbourne re-enter lockdown on Wednesday night, is considering putting similar travel restrictions in place. New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian has said the state government will ask to lower the cap on numbers of people arriving in Australia and could begin to charge international arrivals – including Australians returning home – for hotel quarantine.
Other key developments from around the world include:
Mexico on Wednesday posted a record for new cases reported on a single day, with 6,995, bringing its overall tally of infections to 275,003, health ministry data showed.
China has defended the World Health Organization and lashed out at the US decision to withdraw from the UN body, AP reported, adding to a litany of disputes between the world’s largest economies and increasing geopolitical rivals.
Russia has approved a new antiviral drug, Coronavir, to treat Covid-19 patients, its developer R-Pharm said on Wednesday, as Russia’s tally of infections hit 700,000.