Global number of coronavirus cases exceeds 15 million as pandemic continues to accelerate

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Global coronavirus infections topped 15 million today, according to a Reuters tally, the pandemic accelerating even as countries remain divided in their response to the crisis.

In the United States, which has the highest number of cases in the world with 3.91 million infections, President Donald Trump has warned: “Unfortunately, it will probably get worse before it gets better.

The top five countries with the most cases are followed by Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa. But Reuters’ tally shows the disease is accelerating fastest in the Americas, which accounts for more than half of the world’s infections and half of its deaths.

Globally, the rate of new infections shows no signs of slowing, according to the Reuters tally, based on official reports.

This photo from last week shows US President Donald Trump wearing a mask - a rare sight - as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland

This photo from last week shows US President Donald Trump wearing a mask – a rare sight – as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland

A woman shapes a Stetson hat in front of customers while wearing a mask at the manufacturing store on Saturday in Garland, Texas amid the coronavirus pandemic

A woman shapes a Stetson hat in front of customers while wearing a mask at the manufacturing store on Saturday in Garland, Texas amid the coronavirus pandemic

An employee wears a mask in the main control room of a Fortum wind power plant in Krasny Yar, Ulyanovsk region, central Russia

An employee wears a mask in the main control room of a Fortum wind power plant in Krasny Yar, Ulyanovsk region, central Russia

After the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan, China in early January, it took about 15 weeks to reach two million cases. On the other hand, it took only eight days to surpass the 15 million of the 13 million reached on July 13.

Health experts point out that official data almost certainly underreports both infections and deaths, especially in countries with limited screening capacity.

The official number of coronavirus cases of 15,009,213 is at least triple the number of serious influenza illnesses recorded each year, according to data from the World Health Organization, while the death toll of more than 616,000 in seven months is near the upper range of annual influenza deaths.

While the first wave of the virus still peaks in several countries and an upsurge in the number of cases in others, some countries are reintroducing strict social distancing measures while others are easing restrictions.

Stung by low approval rates for his handling of the outbreak and downplaying risk in the early stages, Trump made a significant shift in rhetoric on Tuesday, encouraging Americans to wear face masks.

A health worker treats a patient at a temporary field hospital set up by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday

A health worker treats a patient at a temporary field hospital set up by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday

A funeral home worker in protective gear disinfects a casket carrying a woman who died of COVID-19, as they prepare for a funeral in Katlehong, near Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday.

A funeral home worker in protective gear disinfects a casket carrying a woman who died of COVID-19, as they prepare for a funeral in Katlehong, near Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday.

Indian health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) yesterday check the temperature, blood oxygen and heart rate of residents of a residential building in Mumbai, India

Indian health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) yesterday check the temperature, blood oxygen and heart rate of residents of a residential building in Mumbai, India

As the epidemic worsened in the United States, Trump focused ahead of a presidential election in November on reopening the economy, and the hard-hit state governors of Texas, Florida and Georgia continue to oppose calls for tighter restrictions.

In Brazil, more than 2.15 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 81,000 people have died. While Bolsonaro played down the outbreak, its scale has made Brazil a prime testing ground for potential vaccines.

India, the only other country with more than a million cases, reported nearly 40,000 new cases on Wednesday. Eager to reopen its economy, India is now facing the double challenge of fighting the pandemic and massive flooding in the northeast of the country.

Two South African cabinet ministers have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19, Africa’s most industrialized country with a total of 372,628 confirmed cases and 5,173 deaths.

Other countries are reintroducing restrictions in response to new outbreaks.

A sunglasses vendor is seen on Copacabana Beach, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week

A sunglasses vendor is seen on Copacabana Beach, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week

In Spain, the number of people allowed on Barcelona beaches was limited after the influx of crowds by the seaside over the weekend despite advice to stay home.

In Australia, residents of Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city, were ordered to wear masks in public from Wednesday after the country reported a record 501 new cases.

Officials in Canada were watching closely for an increase in cases as the economy reopens, attributing the rise in part to large numbers of young people congregating in bars.

China, meanwhile, has announced that passengers on inbound flights must provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding, as authorities seek to reduce the risk of imported cases amid increased international travel.

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