The global number of coronavirus cases crossed 16 million on Sunday, more than half of them in the Americas and the Caribbean, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
The 16,050,223 cases include 645,184 fatalities with the United States the worst hit country, registering 4,178,021 infections and 146,460 dead.
Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded 4,328,915 cases and 182,501 dead followed by Europe on 3,052,108 cases and 207,734 dead.
The spread of the pandemic continues to accelerate and more than five million cases have been declared since July, which represents a third of the total number of cases since the pandemic began.
The World Health Organization says more than a million cases had been recorded in each of the last five weeks, with over 280,000 being reported on July 24 alone.
An aerial view shows people navigating their way through a sunflower maze in the village of Tarbock near Liverpool, England on Saturday. – AFP
The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 85 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Britain with 67, Spain 61, Italy 58, and Sweden 56.
The World Health Organization said that more than a million cases had been recorded in each of the last five weeks, “with over 280,000 being reported on July 24 alone”.
“While no country is unaffected, this rise is driven by high transmission in large and populous countries in the Americas and South Asia,” it said in a statement on Saturday.
Governments worldwide have struggled to contain the virus despite long and economically-crippling lockdowns imposed on millions of people, and a new survey showed that faith in authorities is dwindling in six rich nations. Populations in France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Sweden and the US widely believed death and infection figures to be higher than recorded, according to the study, which polled 1,000 people in each nation. One world leader widely criticised over his handling of the pandemic is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was diagnosed with coronavirus on July 7.
Bolsonaro, who has downplayed what he calls “a little flu”, announced on Saturday that he had finally tested negative. Despite his diagnosis, Bolsonaro has appeared to continue flouting virus precautions, being spotted riding his motorcycle and chatting maskless with presidential palace groundskeepers on Thursday.
Brazil’s biggest city Sao Paulo on Saturday said it was indefinitely postponing its 2021 carnival, while Rio de Janeiro was considering a similar move.
New outbreaks continue to wreak havoc elsewhere around the world, with fresh clusters emerging across Asia. South Korea on Saturday reported its highest infections figure in nearly four months, and in Vietnam the first locally-transmitted case in nearly 100 days was detected.
Authorities in China said they would introduce a new wave of measures and testing in the port city of Dalian, home to about six million people, after fresh infections were detected there.
Europe remains the hardest-hit continent, accounting for a fifth of the world’s case count.