Fastest-ever growth in global virus cases as US tops 8 million

Fastest-ever growth in global virus cases as US tops 8 million

Friday, October 16, 2020

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PARIS,France(AFP) — Coronavirus cases in the United States topped eight million Friday as the world saw the highest-ever number reported in a single day, while European countries tightened measures to control the pandemic's spread.

The running US case tally from Johns Hopkins University is the highest in the world, followed by India at 7.4 million cases and Brazil with 5.1 million.

America has also suffered the most coronavirus deaths of any country, at over 218,000.

Worldwide, more than 400,000 new cases were reported on Friday alone, according to an AFP tally based on official data — a figure only partly explained by increased testing since the first wave of the pandemic in March-April.

Across Europe, the average number of daily infections leapt 44 per cent in a single week to over 121,000.

"It's terrible. It feels to me like being back in March," said Hocine Saal, head of the emergency service at the hospital in the Paris suburb of Montreuil, adding that rising numbers of non-coronavirus patients made coping "really difficult".

On Friday, Paris and other French cities marked their final night before an anti-virus curfew comes into effect, and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Georges Gilkinet said bars and restaurants would be closed for four weeks starting Monday as "our hospitals are clogged".

But in neighbouring Germany a Berlin court overturned night time restrictions.

In England, millions of people were just hours away from stricter measures, including a ban on household mixing, while bars and restaurants closed in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia.

In Greece, the densely populated northern area of Kozani went into a new lockdown.

By imposing restrictions in certain regions only, or only during certain hours of the day, governments are trying to slow the spread of the pandemic while sparing their battered economies a damaging full-scale lockdown.

In the US, the government said its budget deficit in the year to September surged 281 per cent to US$3.1 trillion, after Washington massively increased spending to support activity through the outbreak.

The previous record was US$1.4 trillion in 2009, during the global financial crisis.

On Friday, the number killed by the coronavirus so far topped 1.1 million worldwide, from almost 39 million cases.

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