GENEVA • Nearly 300,000 new coronavirus cases globally were recorded within 24 hours, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday, in the pandemic's biggest single-day spike.
Of the 292,527 cases reported, the biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a WHO daily report. Deaths rose by 6,812.
The coronavirus has killed over 680,000 people and infected at least 17.8 million since it emerged in China last December, according to the pandemic tracker Worldometer last night.
"The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting of the agency's emergency committee, according to remarks released on Friday.
The US, Brazil, Mexico and Britain have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks by the Covid-19 disease, as their governments have struggled to come up with an effective response.
Mexico has overtaken Britain to become the country with the third-most deaths due to Covid-19, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Friday night.
Reported fatalities rose by 688 from Thursday to reach 46,688, the data showed. Britain has 46,204 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The high death rate in Mexico indicates actual cases may be much higher.
Mexico has been criticised for its lack of testing, leaving officials without information about the illness' spread.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has largely focused on reactivating the economy over enacting strict lockdowns. He has also downplayed the importance of using masks to slow the virus' spread.
In remarks on July 25, he acknowledged that the pandemic has hit the country hard and led to many deaths. He attributed the toll to the prevalence of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Even so, the President maintained the spread of the virus is slowing.
Economies have been hit by lockdown restrictions introduced to restrict its spread, while many regions are fearful of a second wave.
After some initial progress in containing the coronavirus, Australia is battling a renewed outbreak in its second-largest state, Victoria, that has forced around five million people into a six-week lockdown.
In Victoria, there was growing concern about community transmission as the state in recent days identified 49 mystery cases it could not trace to a known outbreak.
Yesterday, Victoria reported 397 cases of the disease, down by more than a third from Friday, but the authorities said they are considering further restrictions.
Three new deaths were also reported. This brings the state's deaths in the pandemic to 116 and Australia's tally to 201.
"Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths," said Dr Tedros.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG