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More than 20 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus since Monday evening, nearly five months into the day after the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic.
This is according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which puts the total number of deaths globally at around 734,000.
On Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, acknowledged that “behind these statistics is a great pain and suffering” and called on governments and citizens around the world to do their part to suppress virus.
“I know many of you are sad and that this is a difficult time for the world,” he said. “But I want to be clear, there are green jumps of hope and it does not matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it is never too late to turn the blast.”
The US leads the world with more than 5 million cases of coronavirus and 163,400 deaths.
After rising in July, infections remain prevalent in most of the U.S., particularly in the South, West, and parts of the Midwest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 11 states had registered more than 10,000 new cases in the past week.
The country is recording more than 1,000 deaths a day, or about 40 people an hour, as NPR Allison Aubrey reported. The coronavirus is on track to become the third leading cause of death in the US this year, after cancer and heart disease.
Two other countries have the number of cases in the millions: Brazil is up by more than 3 million and India exceeded the 2 million mark last week.
They are followed by Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Peru.
While many countries in Europe and Asia were largely able to bring the virus under control earlier this spring, cases have increased there and in other parts of the world.
The Philippines has overtaken Indonesia as the hotspot of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia. Mexico has the third highest number of deaths in the world after the US and Brazil. Australia is struggling with a COVID-19 revival and has severely restricted the city of Melbourne in trying to slow the spread.
Ghebreyesus said there are two elements to addressing the pandemic effectively: executives taking action and citizens embracing new measures.
He cited some examples of countries that have successfully stuck to the virus. He cited New Zealand, which has spent more than 100 days without community broadcasting, as a “global example”.
In Rwanda, he said, “a similar combination of strong leadership, universal health coverage, well-supported health workers and clear public health communications” helped progress.
Many countries are using all possible public health tools to respond to the new points, he said. For example, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed parts of northern England under house arrest orders and French President Emmanuel Macron mandated masks in outbound areas.
Ghebreyesus encouraged all countries to focus on rapid case identification, contact tracking, clinical care, physical distance, wearing masks, and good hygiene practices to slow the spread of the virus.
“If countries or regions have successfully eliminated the virus, repression is low, or they are still in the midst of a major outbreak,” he said. “Now is the time to do it all, to invest in the basics of public health and we can save both lives and livelihoods.”