Of the 20 countries with the biggest outbreak, the US ranks second for cases per capita, at 120 infections per 10,000 people, only exceeded by Chile.
Globally, the rate of new infections shows no sign of slowing, with the disease accelerating the fastest in the United States and South America, according to the Reuters tally, based on official reports.
Brazil registered a new daily record for confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing the total confirmed cases across Latin America past 4 million.
Brazil has the second-largest outbreak in the world, with more than 2.2 million people testing positive and nearly 83,000 deaths.
India, the only other country with more than 1 million cases, reported almost 40,000 new cases on Wednesday.
It came as the World Health Organisation said it was seeing intense transmission of the coronavirus in relatively few countries.
“Two-thirds of all cases are from 10 countries. Almost half of all cases reported so far are from just three countries,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing in Geneva.
Tedros also said that just because cases may be at a low level where someone lived, it didn’t mean they should let down their guard.
“Know your situation – do you know how many cases were reported where you live yesterday? Do you know how to find that information? Do you know how to minimise your exposure?”
Spain scrambles to contain spiralling infections
Regional authorities across Spain introduced fresh coronavirus restrictions on Thursday aimed at stamping out a surge in infections that continues to defy efforts at containment and is damaging tourism.
New cases had slowed to a trickle in June, before a nationwide lockdown was lifted, but since then more than 280 clusters have been detected, with wealthy Catalonia the worst affected, leaving hotels largely empty and bars shutting down.
Health ministry data showed 2615 new cases across Spain on Thursday, compared with a daily average of just 132 in June.
In Catalonia, nearly 8000 cases were diagnosed in the past 14 days – almost half of the 16,410 detected throughout the country – despite guidelines for residents of regional capital Barcelona to stay at home.
Murcia, in the south-east of Spain, sealed off 30,000 people in the town of Totana on Thursday, barring anyone from entering or leaving after 55 cases linked to a bar were detected there.
And, in a deepening spat between regional and central authorities, Madrid is pushing the central government to impose stricter controls on the city’s Barajas airport after more than 70 passengers landed in the capital while infected.
Madrid authorities also urged citizens to wear a mask even at home, when they are with people they don’t live with.
Uzbekistan to extend coronavirus lockdown beyond August 1
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has agreed with his cabinet’s proposal to extend a nationwide lockdown beyond August 1 as the coronavirus situation remained “serious” in the Central Asian nation, his office said on Thursday.
Mirziyoyev’s office did not say by how long the former Soviet republic of 34 million would extend its second lockdown introduced from July 10 after a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Uzbekistan has confirmed 18,703 cases of the disease with 105 deaths, figures which jumped in June and early July when the country reopened following its first lockdown and local hospitals quickly filled up.
Neighbouring Kazakhstan has also introduced its second lockdown this month after a botched reopening, and then prolonged it from the initial fortnight to four weeks.
‘Hidden’ COVID-19 toll in South Africa
South Africa witnessed some 17,000 extra deaths from natural causes or 59 per cent more than would normally be expected between early May and mid-July, scientists said, suggesting many more people are dying of COVID-19 than shown in official figures.
New data by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), released overnight, showed that just in the week to July 14 – the latest figures available – there was an excess of 5022 deaths by natural causes, about half more than usual.
Africa’s most industrialised nation is in the middle of a runaway epidemic of the coronavirus, with cases increasing by more than 10,000 a day and the current total approaching 400,000.
But its recorded death toll is low, at 5940 deaths or less than 1.5 percent of cases.
Debbie Bradshaw, chief specialist scientist at the government-funded research council, said the figures revealed “a huge discrepancy” between the confirmed COVID-19 death toll and the excess natural deaths.
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