Global virus cases top a million, deaths surpass 50,000
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million on Thursday and deaths topped 50,000 as Europe reeled from the pandemic and the United States reported the highest daily death toll so far of any country.
Despite more than half the planet imposing some form of lockdown, the virus claimed thousands more lives, with the US, Spain and Britain seeing the highest number of daily fatalities yet.
And it continued to wreak havoc on the global economy, with the US announcing a record 6.65 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week and Spain reporting its biggest monthly increase in jobless claims ever.
COVID-19 is currently spreading the most rapidly in the United States, where there have been 243,453 infections and 5,926 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The US saw 1,169 deaths in 24 hours, the highest one-day toll recorded in any country since the global pandemic began. The grim record was previously held by Italy, where 969 people died on March 27.
The pandemic disrupted the US election calendar as the Democratic Party announced it was postponing its convention to choose a November opponent for President Donald Trump from July 13-16 to August 17.
Trump described the US unemployment figures as “terrible” but predicted rosily that “when this is over… we’re going to have boom times.”
The US president also said he had taken a second virus test and the result came back negative.
Around 85 percent of Americans are under some form of stay-at-home order, but there have been warnings of a potentially staggering US death toll, and disaster response agency FEMA asked the American military for 100,000 body bags on Thursday.
In New York, the epicenter of the US outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to cover their faces when outside and Vice President Mike Pence said there would be a recommendation on the use of masks by the general public in the next few days.
Also in the US, a virus-hit cruise ship, the Zaandam, which has dozens of ill passengers and crew on board, was finally allowed to dock in Florida after being stranded at sea for weeks.
Since emerging in China in December, COVID-19 has infected at least 1,013,157 people — including over half a million in Europe — and claimed 52,983 lives, according Johns Hopkins University.
Italy, the hardest-hit country in terms of deaths, has 115,242 reported cases and 13,915 deaths while Spain has 110,238 cases and 10,003 fatalities.
The number of actual infections is believed to be higher since many countries are only testing severe cases or patients requiring hospitalization.