US cases hit 1.87 million last month, or double the previous record; WHO says pandemic continues to accelerate; Melbourne wakes to strict lockdown
Helen Sullivan – The Guardian
The US has just had its worst month for coronavirus cases so far, with 1.87 million reported, more than double the previous record high. Photograph: Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images
July was the worst month of the coronavirus pandemic so far for many countries, with more than 8 million cases recorded – nearly as many as the first six months of the outbreak put together, figures have shown.
With global infections passing 18 million on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned over the weekend that the pandemic continues to accelerate, with cases doubling about every six weeks.
The United States reported a record 1.87 million cases in July, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, more than twice the figure for the previous record month, April, when 860,000 new cases were reported. May saw 690,200 new infections, while June saw 820,000 cases. US infections are approaching 5 million, with 4,657,693 confirmed, or more than a quarter of the global total. US deaths stand at 154,834, or a fifth of the global total of 687,067.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi escalated an attack on Dr Deborah Birx, a senior scientist on Donald Trump’s coronavirus taskforce, in television comments on Sunday as Birx defended the administration’s handling of the pandemic.
India, with the third-highest number of cases worldwide, also saw the vast majority of its cases confirmed in July, with 1.1 million of its 1.75 million infections reported in the past four weeks, AP reported. India reported nearly 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, down from the previous day’s record of 57,118. At least 37,364 people have died in India during the pandemic so far.
Brazil saw 1.2 million of its 2.7 million cases – the second-highest worldwide – reported in July, while South Africa saw 300,000 in July, compared with 116,000 in June. South Africa is the fourth-worst affected country in terms of cases, and passed 500,000 cases on Saturday.
In a report on its progress in handling the pandemic published over the weekend, WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote: “By the end of June 2020, WHO had received reports of almost 10 million cases and half a million lives lost. The pandemic continues to accelerate; at the current rate, cases are doubling around every six weeks.”
Five of the past seven days have seen daily increases of more than 250,000 cases – or a million every four days.
In Australia, which has confirmed fewer than 20,000 cases since January, a severe lockdown began in Melbourne, Victoria, on Sunday night. Measures include a curfew from 8pm to 5pm, one person being able to leave the house for grocery shopping per day, within 5km of home, and exercise being conducted within 5km of home for a maximum of one hour per day. These restrictions are expected to be in place for six weeks.
State premier Daniel Andrews also announced further restrictions on businesses on Monday.
Other key developments around the world include:
- Vietnam is rushing to build a 700-bed makeshift hospital to cope with an outbreak in the central city of Da Nang, as the health minister warned the current strain of the virus is more contagious than those previously seen in the country.
- Honduras will extend its curfew for another week in an effort to curb the pandemic, Reuters reported, citing the security ministry. Honduras first imposed a curfew, which is in effect daily between 5pm and 7am, in March.
- The number of new Covid-19 cases in China’s far north-western region of Xinjiang continue to fall, with 28 reported on Monday. China reported 43 new cases nationwide, seven of them imported and eight in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.
- Seven Chinese health officials arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday, the first of a 60-person team that will carry out widespread Covid-19 testing in the territory as it races to halt another wave. A group of local Hong Kong councillors said on Sunday that some local residents fear China may use their presence as an opportunity to collect DNA samples for surveillance purposes.
- A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester in England in response to increases in coronavirus infection rates across “multiple localities”.