The COVID-19 reproduction rate, which measures the virus' spread, is above 1 in Germany and France. Image by EPA PHOTO

virus diseases

Worldwide coronavirus cases nearing 16m

2020-07-26 14:24:22

More than 15.99 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 642,837​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

The Unites States has the most number of fatalities – 145,013 – followed by Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa Mexico, Peru, Chile, the UK and Spain.

In Europe many countries are concerned about a resurgence of the deadly virus with Spanish authorities warning of a second major coronavirus outbreak as health officials in France and Germany noted that the disease continues to spread.

France’s coronavirus infection rate has crept higher and local authorities in Germany say the country may already be in the grip of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic while Spain has cracked down on nightlife.

French health authorities said on Saturday the closely watched “R” reproduction rate gauge is now up to 1.3, suggesting that infected people are contaminating 1.3 other people on average.

That means the virus still has enough victims to keep on going instead of petering out.

France’s daily new infections are also rising – up to 1130 on Friday.

Health authorities warned that the country is going backward in its battle against the pandemic, which has already killed at least 30,195 people in the country and that infection indicators now resemble those recorded in May, when France was coming out of its strict two-month lockdown.

“We have thus erased much of the progress that we’d achieved in the first weeks of lockdown-easing,” health authorities said, adding that people appear to be letting down their guard during their summer holidays and those testing positive are making less of an effort to self-isolate.

They appealed for a return to “collective discipline,” asking people to work from home and get tested if they have any suspicions of infection.

The German government’s infectious diseases institute has expressed concern at the country’s significant rise in daily new infections from about 500 to more than 800 at one point last week.

“The second coronavirus wave is already here. It is already taking place every day. We have new clusters of infection every day which could become very high numbers,” Michael Kretschmer, premier of the eastern state of Saxony, told Saturday’s edition of the Rheinische Post newspaper.

The Robert Koch Institute said Germany’s latest reproduction rate was 1.24, up from 1.08 the previous day.

In Spain, Catalonia became the latest region to crack down on nightlife, trying to tamp down on new infection clusters.

The wealthy northeast region home to Barcelona ordered all nightclubs to close for 15 days and put a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around Lleida that have become contagion hot zones.

Spain has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the last two days as authorities warn that the country that lost at least 28,000 lives before getting its outbreak under control could be facing the start of a second major outbreak.

Swimming pools and gyms in England were back in business on Saturday as public health officials extolled the benefits of exercise in fighting COVID-19.

Britain announced a fresh attack on obesity as part of the move, hoping that fitter citizens might be able to minimise the impact of future waves of the virus.

India, which has the world’s third-highest infections behind the United States and Brazil, reported its death toll rose by 740 to 30,601.

It recorded a surge of more than 49,000 new cases, raising its total to more than 1.2 million.

South Africa, Africa’s hardest-hit country, reported more than 13,000 new cases, raising its total above 408,000.

South Korea on Saturday reported more than 100 new coronavirus cases for the first time in four months.