Coronavirus: Global outlook

Infections cross 90m globally as nations fight new variants

A third of cases reported in past 48 days amid scramble to procure vaccines, impose curbs

The United Kingdom crossed 3 million cases on Jan 8, 2021.
The United Kingdom crossed 3 million cases on Jan 8, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

BENGALURU • Worldwide coronavirus cases have surpassed 90 million, according to a Reuters tally, as nations around the globe scramble to procure vaccines and continue to extend or reinstate lockdowns to fight new coronavirus variants.

The new Covid-19 variants, discovered initially in Britain and South Africa, are rapidly spreading globally.

The coronavirus has picked up pace in the past few months, with about one-third of total cases registered in the past 48 days, the tally showed yesterday.

Europe, which became the first region to report 25 million cases last week, remains the worst-affected area in the world, followed by North America with 22.4 million cases and Latin America with 16.3 million cases.

Europe has reported around 31 per cent of about 1.93 million coronavirus-related deaths globally.

Britain, the worst-affected European country, crossed three million cases last Friday.

The nation is on course to have immunised its most vulnerable people against Covid-19 by mid-February and plans to offer a shot to every adult by autumn.

To control the spread of new coronavirus variants, countries across the globe have started to extend movement and business restrictions.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers last week agreed to restrict non-essential travel for residents of hard-hit areas all over the country for the first time, after a lockdown decreed last month failed to significantly reduce infection numbers.

The French authorities imposed a stricter evening curfew in Marseille after they said the new variant of the Covid-19 virus initially found in Britain had been discovered in the Mediterranean city.

The United States, the world's worst-affected country, reported its highest death toll last Wednesday, with more than 4,000 fatalities in a single day.

The nation has recorded more than 22 million cases since the pandemic started, reporting on average 245,000 new infections a day over the past seven days, according to a Reuters analysis.

In Asia, India crossed 150,000 deaths last Tuesday, becoming the third nation to reach the grim milestone.

The South Asian nation has approved two Covid-19 vaccines and will start its vaccination drive from Saturday, with priority given to about 30 million healthcare and front-line workers.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2021, with the headline 'Infections cross 90m globally as nations fight new variants'. Print Edition | Subscribe