WHO reports record number of new coronavirus cases as death toll approaches 600,000

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A record number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus were registered worldwide on Saturday, with more than 250,000 cases reported, the World Health Organization said.

It was the first time that the number of new infections in a day has exceeded a quarter of a million, the health agency added, with 259,848 recorded cases.

The United States, Brazil, South Africa and India, which reached more than a million cases on Friday, recorded the largest increases.

The previous record – set 24 hours earlier – was 237,743 cases.

The WHO said the number of deaths worldwide was approaching 600,000. It said that 7,360 new deaths were recorded worldwide on Saturday, the largest daily increase since early May.

This dark stage comes amid concerns over the re-emergence of the virus in Asia and Europe.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Sunday the city had recorded more than 100 new cases, in a single record day for the semi-autonomous territory.

Calling the situation “critical,” she said there were no signs “that the situation is being brought under control.”

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Cleaning workers wearing protective gear are seen as they clean and disinfect a wet market after the COVID-19 outbreak in Sham Shui Po, one of Hong Kong’s oldest neighborhoods, on Friday, July 17.TYRONE SIU / Reuters

The city is struggling with the third peak of the coronavirus epidemic since early July, with an increasing number of locally transmitted infections.

Lam said the social distancing measures announced last week will be extended for an additional 7 days until at least July 29, and that non-essential officials will work from home starting Monday to help stop the spread of the virus.

She added that she would ask the Justice Department to consider expanding the mandatory face mask requirement on public transport to include all indoor public places.

In mainland China, where the pandemic is believed to have started, 16 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Sunday, including 13 in Urumqi, the far western capital of Xinjiang China.

The city went into “wartime mode” on Saturday, with no mass gatherings allowed and residential communities blocked, according to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government Information Office.

Meanwhile, in Spain, which has suffered one of Europe’s worst epidemics, authorities have urged 4 million people in the northeastern region of Catalonia, including residents of Barcelona, ​​to stay at home in the strongest measure to stem the spread of the virus since the emergence of the country. nationwide state of emergency last month.

Gatherings of more than 10 people have been banned as most infections have come from social gatherings, according to local health officials.

Barcelona police barred access to much of the city’s beaches on Saturday after too many bathers ignored authorities’ request to stay at home, the Associated Press reported.

Barcelona police closed access to much of the city’s beaches on Saturday due to excessive sunbathers who ignored the authorities’ urges to stay home amid a coronavirus resurgence.Emilio Morenatti / AP

Elsewhere, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that some 25 million Iranians may have been infected with coronavirus, as the government reimposed restrictions in the capital and elsewhere.

The figure, taken from a Rouhani report quoted in a televised speech, corresponds to almost 30% of the 85 million inhabitants of Iran.

However, Mostafa Qanei, head of Iran’s coronavirus scientific committee, clarified in a subsequent interview that Rouhani’s remark is based on research from the Ministry of Health that estimates 25 million people have come in contact with the virus, developing mild symptoms without hospitalization.

In Australia, residents of the country’s second largest city, Melbourne, are now required to wear masks when leaving their homes amid an increase in the number of cases.

Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, forced nearly 5 million people into a partial six-week lockdown earlier this month. State health officials reported 363 new cases on Sunday, after 217 the day before.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison delayed the opening of parliament on Saturday for several weeks as the number of infections rose.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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