10 million coronavirus cases globally as outbreak surges

Experts say countries need to stay vigilant and public must continue to take precautions

The US, with the most infections, accounts for about a quarter of all cases and deaths. PHOTO: AFP

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has crossed 10 million, marking a grim milestone in the spread of a pandemic that shows no signs of flagging and has killed about half a million people to date.

It has taken less than a week for the case count to jump from nine million to 10 million, according to tallies by data site Worldometer, as Covid-19 continues to spread exponentially.

Said Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health: "Globally, the pandemic situation has only gotten worse, and not better."

Noting that some countries abroad seemed to have moved to lift lockdowns too early or quickly, he said: "Rushing to lift lockdown measures without having adequately established a system to track and trace, and to safely manage public, commercial and corporate spaces, will only see the inevitable reintroduction of new restrictions."

World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference last Wednesday that in the first month of the outbreak, fewer than 10,000 cases were reported to the WHO. "In the last month, almost four million cases have been reported," he said.

He stressed that even as the research into vaccines continues, "we have an urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives".

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a virtual summit on Saturday that Singapore will work with various parties to develop vaccines and distribute them fairly and quickly to people worldwide.

He was speaking at the Global Goal: Unite For Our Future pledging summit, held as an online event by advocacy group Global Citizen, which raised €6.15 billion (S$9.6 billion) from the United States, the European Commission (EC) and numerous countries to fight Covid-19.

Flare-ups have surfaced as many countries struggle to ease lockdowns, amid drastic changes to work and social life arrangements that could last a year or more until a vaccine is available.

The US, with the most infections, accounts for about a quarter of all cases and deaths, with case numbers rising at an alarming pace in several states.

Currently, Brazil, which accounts for the most cases after the US, and India are hard hit and battling large outbreaks.

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The number of reported cases of Covid-19 passed the 10 million milestone on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally.

"We haven't seen the end of Covid-19, and we haven't seen the full scope of it yet, either," Dr Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, told Bloomberg.

In Singapore, the number of cases in the community has been creeping up since the country entered phase two of its reopening on June 19, with people out in droves to enjoy shopping, sports and social activities.

Crowds headed out to popular beaches at the weekend, for example, with families and groups gathering at East Coast Park, Sentosa's Siloso Beach and Pasir Ris Park.

More attractions are due to open soon, with the Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios Singapore and the casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands among those allowed to resume operations from Wednesday, with restrictions in place.

Yesterday, there were 213 new cases, including 11 community cases. The authorities have also stepped up checks on businesses and individuals, closing down several outlets for flouting the rules, and meting out fines.

Experts have warned that with hidden reservoirs of the virus still lurking, people must not be lulled into a false sense of security.

They should continue to avoid crowds, observe good hygiene and safe distancing, and remain at home where possible.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2020, with the headline 10 million coronavirus cases globally as outbreak surges. Subscribe