Global coronavirus death toll surpassed 500,000 on Sunday, with the total number of cases standing at more than 10 million, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease in the last seven months.
The World Health Organization also has announced another daily record in the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases across the world – topping over 189,000 in a single 24-hour period.
The tally on Sunday from the UN. health agency eclipses the previous record a week earlier at over 183,000 cases, showing case counts continue to progress worldwide.
Brazil recorded the most new cases over the one-day span at more than 46,800, followed by the US at over 44,400. India had nearly 20,000.
A million new cases were recorded in only six days, according to one count, as fears grow of a full-blown second wave.
The milestones come as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns that have devastated their economies and thrown millions out of work, while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.
But some nations are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern in the coming months and into 2021.
North America, Latin America and Europe each account for around 25 per cent of cases, while Asia and the Middle East have around 11 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, according to a Reuters tally, which uses government reports.
The 500,000 fatalities linked to the disease so far is roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.
In some countries with limited testing capabilities, case numbers reflect a small proportion of total infections. Roughly half of reported infections are known to have recovered. Experts say official figures seriously understate the true toll of the pandemic.
About a dozen potential Covid-19 vaccines are in early stages of testing. While some could move into late-stage testing later this year if all goes well, it is unlikely any would be licensed before early next year at the earliest.
The first cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed on January 10 in Wuhan in China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the United States, and later Russia.
The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources.
The two countries accounted for over a third of all new cases in the past week. Brazil reported a record 54,700 new cases on June 19. Some researchers said the death toll in Latin America could rise to over 380,000 by October, from around 100,000 this week.
In India, densely populated cities have been particularly hard hit. The country set a daily record on Saturday with 18,500 new cases and 385 deaths. Total infections are at 509,000, with more than 15,600 deaths.
The total number of cases continued to increase at a rate of between 1-2 per cent a day in the past week, down from rates above 10 percent in March.
Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have seen new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.
In Beijing, where hundreds of new cases were linked to an agricultural market, testing capacity has been ramped up to 300,000 a day.
China on Sunday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding Beijing to contain the cluster. Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters that the situation was “severe and complicated”, warning that the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.