Australia

‘VERY DISTURBING’: Virus crisis accelerating at scary pace

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating at a frightening speed, with cases rising faster than ever.

It took more than three months for the world to record one million virus infections, but at this stage of the pandemic, the world has jumped by one million cases in the past six days.

This timeline suggests we could see the global case tally pass 20 million as soon as August or September.

“The pandemic is still accelerating,” WHO‘s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the virtual health forum organised by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates last week. “We know that the pandemic is much more than a health crisis, it is an economic crisis, a social crisis and in many countries a political crisis.”

He said the greatest threat the world faces is “the lack of global solidarity and global leadership”.

Australia has largely contained the spread despite an outbreak in Melbourne, with several states now reporting zero new daily cases. But where is this massive growth coming from?

The US is leading with 2.74 million cases and 130,000 deaths. What’s more worrying, however, is the rate at which the virus has been spreading.

The country reported over 55,000 new cases on Friday, marking its sixth consecutive record-setting day for new cases.

Health officials estimate that at least 20 million people in the United States may already be infected with COVID-19.

The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) says the true number of cases is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure, with some southern and western states reporting record numbers of cases in recent days.

The University of Washington has predicted 180,000 deaths in the US by October – or 146,000 if 95 per cent if Americans wear masks.

Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has warned the US could see more than 100,000 new coronavirus infections per day if it does not contain the current outbreak.

Speaking to Congress along with other health officials, Dr Fauci warned on Tuesday he “would not be surprised” to see the current 40,000 infections per day soar past the 100,000 mark.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the US Senate that “clearly we are not in total control right now” of the pandemic and warned social distancing and mask wearing was essential.

“We’re going to continue to be in a lot of trouble,” he warned if people failed to follow this advice.

“It is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that,” he said.

Dr Fauci also warned the outbreak in the US was out of control.

“I am not satisfied with what’s going on because we are going in the wrong direction if you look at the curves of the new cases,” he said.

“So we’ve really got to do something about that and we need to do it quickly.

“Clearly we are not in total control right now.”

BRAZIL

In Brazil, the death toll has surpassed 60,000, with a total of 1.4 million cases – making the country the second-hardest hit after the US.

“There is an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in almost all states in both the Midwest and the South that, until two or three weeks ago, had a small number of cases,” Eduardo Marques Macário, a senior health official, told journalists in a press conference.

But despite this, the country’s far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the outbreak, protesting against lockdown measures.

INDIA

Cases in India are now on a sharp incline, with the country’s tally growing from 198,000 at the start of June to over 600,000 at the start of July.

The death toll is also climbing steeply, from 5608 fatalities at the start of June to 17,848 at the start of July.

The country also just recorded its most daily cases ever with 21,948 infections.

India’s hardest-hit state is Maharashtra – home to the densely-populated financial hub of Mumbai. The virus has hit India’s densely populated cities especially hard.

The city‘s government has predicted it will have 500,000 new infections by the end of July.

To put that number into perspective, 394,872 cases were recorded in June across the whole country – a sign that the virus is spreading rapidly in Indian cities.

SOUTH AFRICA

Cases of coronavirus are surging in South Africa on the back of the country lifting its restrictions.

On Thursday, authorities reported a jump of 8,728 infections in a single day, taking the total count to 168,061.

With 35,166 active cases, the rich and populous area of Gauteng has 44 per cent of the national total for current infections compared with Western Cape, which is next at 22 per cent.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura warned a “COVID storm” was sweeping the southern hemisphere, suggesting cases would continue to rise until September.


“The COVID-19 storm has arrived in Gauteng, but it is within our power, within our capacity, as the people of this province, every sector without exception, to do something to ensure we weather the storm,” he said, according to local media reports.

“There’s no doubt about the storm, it is here, but the critical issue is that we have to look at a number of interventions to help us weather the storm.”

The lockdown in South Africa caused immense hardship to tens of millions of people, with poor people in densely populated communities most affected.

PERU

Peru’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 10,045 on Thursday, one day after the country began easing a lockdown in a bid to revive the economy.

The country is currently at 292,004 infections, authorities said. Peru is Latin America‘s worst-hit country after Brazil – despite being one of the first countries in the region to go into a strict nationwide lockdown.

The lockdown in Peru began on March 16, before the United Kingdom and other European countries.

RUSSIA

Russia reported 6,718 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, taking the nationwide tally of infections to 667,883.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 176 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 9,859.

Russia has recorded the third-highest number of cases in the world, but analysts have questioned the country’s figures, suggesting its death toll in particular is higher than what’s being officially reported.

WHAT ABOUT AUSTRALIA?

Australia has been praised for successfully “flattening the curve”, with most regions recording zero or relatively few cases.

But Victoria is the worrying exception; the state has recorded double-figure increases in cases for 17 straight days with suburbs forced back into lockdown and threats it could extend to cover the entire state.

The last record peak on the state’s chart came on March 28 when there were 111 new cases.

The silver lining is that Victoria’s cases do not appear to be rapidly rising in recent days, but rather staying between a bracket of between 60-80 new cases a day.

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