Coronavirus: global daily case tally tops record high as countries battle fresh outbreaks

Several nations were confronting a worrying spike in new coronavirus infections over the weekend after the number of cases recorded worldwide in a single day hit an all-time high of nearly 300,000.
The grim figure for Saturday, reported as 294,237 by the World Health Organisation, puts the number of people infected globally at almost 21.5 million, while more than 777,000 people with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, have died.
The previous record daily total was on July 31, when just over 292,000 new cases were reported.
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In absolute numbers, the most affected countries are the United States, Brazil and India, which each recording more than 100,000 cases over the past seven days.
According to experts, the number of unreported cases is likely much higher.
British travellers returning home from parts of Europe and beyond began quarantine under new restrictions on Saturday, while Russia said it had produced the first batch of its controversial coronavirus vaccine.
Latin America and the Caribbean, the pandemic’s current epicentre, surpassed 6 million infections, even as Rio de Janeiro in hard-hit Brazil reopened major tourist sites including the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
“The reopening of the Christ (monument) symbolises the reopening of Brazil to tourism,” Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said at a ceremony at the base of the statue, where visitors will have to wear masks and socially distance.
Latin America claims nearly one-third of the 760,000 coronavirus deaths worldwide.
The US is the worst-affected country with more than one-quarter of the world’s 21 million cases, as well as nearly 170,000 deaths. Brazil follows with 3.3 million cases and 107,000 deaths.
Even South Korea – an early success story in containing the coronavirus – warned of another mass infection after reporting on Sunday 445 more cases, the highest since early March, most of which are linked to a flare-up at a church in the capital.
Elsewhere, Britain removed France, the Netherlands, Malta and three other countries from its list of places exempt from self-isolation rules, as a second wave of virus infections threatens more disruption and economic chaos in Europe.
The move, announced late on Thursday, sparked a 36-hour scramble for plane, train and ferry tickets among some Britons desperate to get back home before the 4am rule change.
All arrivals from the blacklisted states after the deadline must self-quarantine for 14 days, with the measure already in place for people coming from several other countries including Spain and Belgium.
Germany added most of Spain – where cases have surged in recent weeks – to its list of regions from where arrivals must show a negative Covid-19 test or quarantine for two weeks. The restrictions include the island of Mallorca, a highly popular resort for German sunseekers
French authorities reported more than 3,000 new cases on Saturday after three days of at least 2,500 new infections – levels not seen since France was in a strict lockdown in the spring.
However several countries announced an easing of lockdown measures.
South Africa said it would resume sales of alcohol and cigarettes – banned on March 27 – on Monday, while DR Congo opened up its airspace on Saturday for the first time in five months.
In the US, museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions in New York will be allowed to reopen later this month following a five-month shutdown.
As cases around the world continue to rise, Moscow said the first consignments of its “Sputnik V” vaccine had been produced, just four days after President Vladimir Putin announced Russia had won the global race to approve a vaccine.
The claim has drawn a sceptical response from Western scientists and the WHO, which have said the vaccine still needs a rigorous review.
Meanwhile, about 5,000 pilgrims attended the annual Assumption mass in the underground basilica in France’s Lourdes Roman Catholic shrine Saturday – with strict health measures in place.
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