Cases of COVID-19 surged past 9 million killing 470,000 people as of Monday — an increase of 1 million infections in six days — led by huge numbers in the United States and Brazil, along with Russia, India and Britain.
The United States had 2.3 million cases and 121,000 deaths, with 726,000 people who have recovered. Next was Brazil with 1 million cases and 50,000 deaths, along with 543,000 recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University and Google data trackers.
Russia had 592,000 cases and 8,200 deaths, with 344,000 recovered; India, 425,000 cases, 13,000 deaths and 237,000 recovered; and Britain, 305,000 cases, 42,000 deaths, and an unknown number of people recovered, because the government is not tracking them.
The World Health Organization warned that some some countries are continuing to see a rapid increase in cases and deaths, while some countries that have successfully suppressed transmission are now seeing an upswing in cases as they reopen their societies and economies.
"It seems that almost every day we reach a new and grim record," WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a news media briefing on Monday. "Yesterday, more than 183,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to WHO — easily the most in a single day so far."
That new daily record — which included 54,000 Brazilian and 36,000 U.S. cases — could mean some large nations are experiencing a peak in the pandemic, according to Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO's emergencies chief.
He told the news media briefing that the number of cases “are quickly rising because the epidemic is developing in a number of populous countries at the same time" despite leveling off in Western Europe.
The numbers of COVID-19 cases are generally rising among African nations and "definitely accelerating" in some countries particularly in the Americas and South Asia, but this is not due to more widespread testing, according to Ryan.
“We do not believe this is a testing phenomenon,” he said. “The epidemic is now peaking or moving towards a peak in a number of large countries.”
Tedros said all countries are facing a delicate balance, between protecting their people, while minimizing the social and economic damage.
"It’s not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both," he said. "We urge countries to be careful and creative in finding solutions that enable people to stay safe while getting on with their lives. We continue to urge all countries to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we know work."
Although the data are still preliminary, Tedros said, the recent finding that the steroid dexamethasone has life-saving potential for critically ill COVID-19 patients "gave us a much-needed reason to celebrate."
Scientists reported that dexamethasone, a common corticosteroid, reduces death rates of COVID-19 by up to one-third, according to an Oxford University statement.
Tedros said it is an inexpensive medicine, and there are many dexamethasone manufacturers worldwide wh0 could accelerate production. But he cautioned there is no evidence it works with mild disease or preventatively, and it could cause harm.