The world reached two tragic milestones on Sunday — 10 million COVID-19 cases and 500,000 deaths — with 1 million infections added in the past six days even as nations eased lockdowns and focused on economic recovery.
Five million people have recovered. Infections keep rising in Latin America, parts of the United States and Africa, however, despite government leaders' attempts to reopen crippled economies while fanning the hopes of pandemic-weary citizens that the worst is almost over.
The six-day jump proved the dangers have not subsided; it also took six days to go from 8 million cases up to 9 million, and eight days to get from 7 million cases up to 8 million.
Before that, it took nine days between 6 million and 7 million cases, and 1o days to reach each of the previous two 1 million marks. The 4 million and 3 million thresholds each came within 12 days.
"The pandemic is still accelerating," the World Health Organization's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told the Council of Europe on Friday. "In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO. In the last month, almost 4 million cases have been reported."
Although transmission has been suppressed in many European countries, the virus is still circulating and remains deadly, and most people are still susceptible, according to the U.N. health agency.
"This is the time to be on our guard, not to let it down. The greatest threat in Europe now is complacency," he said. "In other regions, some countries are continuing to see a rapid increase in cases and deaths. Some countries that have successfully suppressed transmission are now seeing an upswing in cases as they reopen their societies and economies."
Universal access needed
WHO said it will need more than US$30 billion in the coming year to help orchestrate the development and production of coronavirus tests, vaccines and other medical treatments. Last month, the United Nations also more than tripled its humanitarian aid appeal to US$6.7 billion, up from US$2 billion six weeks ago earlier, to help the most vulnerable countries threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States continues to lead the world in the number of infections with 2.5 million. Brazil follows with 1.3 million cases. Russia comes in third with 633,000, according to Johns Hopkins University and Google data trackers.
The U.S. had a record 44,782 new cases on Saturday, the fifth day in a row of single-day record cases. It also leads the world in coronavirus deaths at 125,000, followed by Brazil's 57,000, and Britain's 43,600.
Due to the pandemic's severity in the United States, a U.S federal judge in Los Angeles ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to release migrant children held for more than 20 days in the nation's three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.
“The family residential centers are on fire and there is no more time for half measures,” she wrote.
The European Union is preparing an agreement to allow in some foreign travelers starting on July 1, the first time its borders would be reopened to outside countries since March, but Americans are not on the list based on how poorly the nation has managed the health crisis.
In China, where the virus was first detected at Wuhan in December, the number of virus cases stabilized. Among some of the other earliest hard-hit countries, Italy on Saturday recorded the lowest number of coronavirus deaths in almost four months.
WHO warned that some countries are continuing to see a rapid increase in cases and deaths, however, while other countries that suppressed transmission are seeing an upswing in cases as they reopen.
“It’s clear that to bring COVID-19 under control, and to save lives, we need effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics – in unprecedented quantities and at unprecedented speed," Tedros said in another speech on Friday.
"And it’s clear that because all people are at risk of COVID-19," he said, "all people should have access to all the tools to prevent, detect and treat it — not only those who can afford to pay for them."