Global coronavirus cases surge past 32 million: Europe battling second wave; US cases cross 7 million
France and Britain set their highest number of daily cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The US, on the other hand, has already surpassed over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world's highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the country from COVID-19.
The number of global coronavirus infections has passed the 32 million mark, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, with reported virus cases in Europe reaching record highs as it endures a "second wave". COVID-19 infections in the United States, on the other hand, have topped 7 million.
The latest grim milestone comes just days after the US surpassed over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world's highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the country from COVID-19. The total US case tally is more than 20% of the world's total - as Midwest states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections in September.
SITUATION IN THE U.S.
All Midwest states except Ohio reported more cases in the past four weeks as compared with the prior four weeks, led by South Dakota and North Dakota. South Dakota had the biggest percentage increase at 166% with 8,129 new cases, while North Dakota’s new cases doubled to 8,752 as compared to 4,243 during the same time in August.
Many cases in those two states have been linked to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, that annually attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.
According to a Reuters report, positive cases rose in half of the 50 U.S. states this month. Ten states have reported a record one-day increase in COVID-19 cases in September. New cases rose last week after falling for eight consecutive weeks. Health experts believe this spike was due to reopening schools and universities as well as parties over the recent Labour Day holiday.
A study by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College said recent reopening of college and university campuses for in-person instruction during late summer this year could be associated with more than 3,000 additional cases of COVID-19 per day in the US in recent weeks.
The US confirmed cases are the highest in the world followed by India with 5.7 million cases and Brazil with 4.6 million. The US is currently averaging 40,000 new infections per day.
Health officials and President Donald Trump have presented different views about the nation's health crisis. Trump, who is seeking re-election to a second term on November 3, early this month had claimed that the US was “rounding the corner” on the crisis. Fauci contradicted the claim the next day, saying the statistics were disturbing.
EUROPE BATTLING SECOND COVID-19 WAVE
Britain recorded its highest number of daily cases of COVID-19 on Thursday at 6,634, according to government data, reflecting a second wave of infections sweeping through the country but also a much higher level of testing than during the first wave. Thursday's number was up from 6,178 on Wednesday, itself a jump from 4,926 the previous day.
Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government estimated fewer than 10,000 people were becoming infected every day, as opposed to estimated numbers over 100,000 during the peak of the first wave. Britain has the highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe, at 41,902.
While testing capacity has increased dramatically since the first wave, the system has nevertheless been under strain.
France also set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the fourth in eight days, while the number of people hospitalised for the disease went above 6,000 for the first time in more than two months.
Those figures are published the day after the government announced extra restrictive measures, mainly in big cities and especially in Marseille, to contain the virus.
On their website, French health authorities reported 16,096 new confirmed coronavirus cases, blowing away the previous record of 13,498 and bringing the cumulative total to 497,237, the second-highest in Western Europe behind Spain.
The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections stood at 31,511, up by 52. That figure is lower than the seven-day moving average of 59 but more than four times higher than the daily average of 12 seen in August.
Health authorities said there were 6,031 patients hospitalised for COVID-19 as of Thursday, a tally still more than five times lower than the 32,292 peak reached on April 14 but up by 33% since an August 29 low of 4,530.
France's Prime Minister warned that if the government does not act to prevent the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, there could be a repeat of the situation at the peak of the crisis in March.
Spain's cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections passed 700,000 on Thursday and authorities warned of tougher times ahead in the virus hotspot of Madrid. The number of confirmed cases has spiked since the end of a nationwide lockdown in late June, adding 200,000 in less than a month, and now stands at 704,209, the highest in Western Europe.
The total number of COVID-19 fatalities rose by 84 to 31,118, including 13 deaths registered in the past 24 hours. Daily deaths are now around their highest levels since early May.
Authorities in Madrid, which has the highest share of hospital capacity occupied by COVID-19 patients and about 500 people hospitalised a day this week, have imposed a partial lockdown in districts with high contagion rates, and could announce more measures on Friday, say local officials.
Experts warn that the current signs in Europe point to more tragedy ahead this winter. Colder weather is beginning to set in and the flu season is approaching. The infection is spreading to older populations, and there are signs that people are growing tired of adhering to the restrictions.
Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the UK's University of Southampton, told CNN: "We'll see a lot of spread of cases, we will see a lot of hospitalizations, and a lot of burden on our health service. There will also be a big death toll."
He warned that the uptick in cases "will at some point translate into infections in older populations who have higher mortality rates."
Meanwhile, in Russia, health officials reported 6,595 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily surge since July. In Moscow, more than 1,000 new cases were recorded for the first time since June. The number of daily new cases started to grow in late August in Russia, which has the fourth largest caseload in the world at 1.12 million infections. There have been nearly 20,000 confirmed deaths.
Officials have repeatedly dismissed speculation of a second lockdown, saying the increase was expected and Russia’s health care infrastructure was prepared for it.
Russia was the first country in the world to approve a vaccine against the virus last month but experts say that more studies are needed to establish the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.